After a warm, sunny October afternoon, I needed to turn on a light at 6:30. 6 flipping 30. By the end of the month it’ll be 5:30, then it’ll be 4:00, then lunchtime. It saddens me deeply to say this, but — daylight’s in full, hasty retreat and winter has us in the crosshairs.
Pre-covid winters were already awful, filled with long, dark, punishing days. Mundane things, like putting gas in the car, turn to torture at -4º F. Dressing in layer upon layer upon layer of heavy and woolly and thick = buffoon. Dog walking in a howling, sleet-driven wind = death wish. Scraping an icy windshield with a credit card = masochism. Winter is a parade of misery from November until mid-April.
Adding Covid-19 to the mix changes things, though. Winter’s not an unwelcome inconvenience anymore, it’s a hostile incursion. To the usual horror of short days and bitter, unrelenting cold, we add isolation, anxiety, plus just a soupçon of fear, thereby creating a recipe for clinical depression. These days, there’s scarce hope of finding any apricity — comforting warmth from the winter sun — anywhere.
So I’m preparing early for the looming catastrophe dead ahead. I might not be able to stop it, but I can take some of the sting out, maybe. And here’s how I plan to do it:
Step One: A Good Death Cleaning.
When surrounded by mayhem and chaos, there’s nothing as soothing as orderly cleanliness. Keep in mind, a death cleaning is nothing like Marie Kondo’s tidying up nonsense. It’s a Swedish practice to unburden grief-stricken loved ones from clearing out your mess after you, you know, croak. So instead of asking yourself ‘does this bring me joy?’, you ask ‘is this a dust catcher? Is it in my way? Is it noisy or bulky or smelly. Am I tired of looking at it?’ Then you throw it away and do a deep scrubbing, polishing, and rearranging at the end. It’s life-affirming, uplifting stuff. I promise.
Step Two: Begin Hoarding Books
After years of practice, I’ve learned an important lesson. Ignore author blurbs when you read book reviews. They’re lies. Flowery, over-hyped, smarmy lies. Stick with reliable sources like Booklist and Publishers Weekly, the Washington Post, New York Times, those guys. They may be wrong, but they’re honest. For an average winter, you’ll need anywhere from 10 to 60 books. Shop accordingly.
Step Three: A Soft, Thick, Cozy, Oversized Fleece Blanket
Trust me on this, the world is a kinder, more manageable place when you’re warm and curled up in a blanket with a decent book. It’s better than Valium or whatever they’re prescribing these days.
Step Four: Heavy Socks By The Dozen
It’s a little known fact, but cold feet are the leading cause of despair the world over. Socks are the only known and proven cure. Get some cushy ones. The kind that put a spring in your step. Buy them in colors and patterns that’ll act as dazzling eye candy, brightening your day and popping a smile onto your face.
Step Five: An Attitude Adjustment
Try not to think of winter as being trapped or isolated or chilly or germ-laden, think of it as a vacation from society and uncomfortable clothes. Relish the calming quiet it offers. While winter is a lot of terrible things, noisy isn’t one of them. There’s perfect bliss in watching a silent snowfall cover a bleak world in clean, fluffy purity. The misery those flakes will cause doesn’t hit until you go outside and contend with their consequences.
Step Six: For Me and Me Alone.
Put an orthopedic surgeon on speed dial.
Good luck to us, every one.
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