Today I am hunkered down in my house, on a snowy, cold, minus-something grey day. January and February can be tough months, but this winter feels particularly dark.
Many of us feel weary and fatigued as we wrap our heads around the reality that, yes, we are moving into year two of this pandemic.
Collectively we are on edge and still living in survival mode. No quick fix or happily-ever-after ending is in sight. Vaccines are on the horizon, but widespread distribution is a long way from today.
It takes effort to resist the dark undertow and stay afloat and keep believing in what is yet unseen. As I watch snowflakes cover bare trees through my office window, I’m thinking about what I’ve learned about how to get through a winter.
Living on the Canadian Prairies requires enduring long, bitterly cold winters. To keep our spirits up, we are trained from a young age to keep looking up and noticing the clear blue sky. We appreciate the open blue skies and sunshine – even on the coldest days.
When it’s minus 29 and dark by 4:00 P.M. you have to believe there will be sunshine beyond the dark days of winter. While you’re dreaming, you still need to make sure you have a warm coat and a shovel, and whatever else it takes to make it through the day.
We are kind to our neighbours because we need to rely on a community to survive our climate. You never know when you might get stuck, or your car won’t start, or you’ll need a ride.
And since this is your life as you know it, why not squeeze out as much joy as you can? We go inward and find a lot of things to do indoors. We get creative about all the things you can do outdoors if you’re warmly dressed.
And we learn re-checking the forecast before you leave the house doesn’t hurt either. It is always wise to have an extra sweater and a backup plan because the weather can change quickly, and predictions can be wrong.
We get through the winter complaining about it and congratulating each other for surviving. And then we get to experience the joy of a glorious spring and a hot summer.
We watch our landscape transform from black and white into technicolour, and green leaves miraculously sprout out of bare-branched trees. We don’t take the warm weather for granted because we know it doesn’t last. No one wants to waste a sunny day.
Then comes the fall, and a cool breeze feels refreshing. Watching the leaves turn colour can be a lovely sight. Snow means a dramatic wardrobe change, but it also means Christmas is coming. No one can argue the beauty of a white Christmas.
And then the holiday magic fades, and here we are again in winter. By living through four seasons, it’s impossible not to notice life keeps changing. Every season has a purpose, a challenge, its beauty and a time to let go.
Surviving harsh climates requires common sense, shelter, good neighbours and imagination. We get through winter by surrendering to what the season demands of us to thrive in it. We stay close to what gives us warmth and hang on to what gives us hope.