Sunday, November 30, 2014

Connecting To Winter In The City

Winter and I have a complicated relationship.

Love Hate, if you will. 

Short days and brutal weather often leave me in general malaise, lethargy, aches, travel complications and the insanity of cabin fever.  While at the same time, I'm still enchanted by falling snow, icicles and the strange surge of creativity that comes with battening the hatches of the homestead.


In terms of admiration for the season, winter in the city comes with unique challenges. I often think that if we city dwellers experienced winter in a great northern wood with the aurora borealis winking above us we'd harbor more romantic thoughts about it. Or perhaps if it didn't last for six months...

Part of the trouble might be feeling disconnected. Summer makes it so simple for us to visit the water, to camp, and put our hands in the dirt. Winter can feel like a distant lonely planet.

But what could winter in the city be like?

What if we shifted from coping to connecting?  Possibly even celebrating?


We can see winter with the eyes of an artist.

The pallet winter offers us is subtle and spellbinding. Snow is never simply white-- it takes on periwinkle, violet, golden, pinkish and deep cerulean shadows. Buildings and light posts are suddenly more complex as we become aware of their structure and nuances when dusted with snow.

Perhaps you will be inspired to paint what you see or catalog colors in swatches...

Winter sunsets are spectacular: hot shifting swaths of light stand out beautifully against bare trees. Photograph them if you feel called. Absorb their colors. Maybe applaud them.

Nothing is ever really dead. Set out about your city with the intent to notice wildlife and their tracks: crows, sparrows, chickadees, squirrels, racoons, deer, foxes, owls, hawks, chipmunks and cats.

 Last winter I had a startling encounter I will never forget.

Invite creatures into your yard with simple bird feeders. Who doesn't pleasantly recall smearing peanut putter on pine cones in grade school?

While Summer hikes are exhilarating, Winter walks can be just as adventurous and rejuvenating. The sounds and snow draped shapes transform forests and parks, transporting us from survival to surreal inspiration.

Taste the snow. Do it. You want to.

Gather up branches and dried stems from alleys, fields, parking lots or along your building. Make a bouquet and admire their stoic, simple, sculptural beauty. Give them a second life!

Winter also gives us the gift of hibernation-- of moving inward. Our consciousness is in a different place. It's the perfect time to start a dream journal to record all of those bizarre insights.

Camp fires take on a different flavor in the winter. (If you are an apartment dweller, you don't need to create an enormous funeral pyre-- a toasty little fire in a foil lined baby webber grill does the trick.)

Invite friends. Drink all the coco. Wear all the blankets.

The stars are still there. Visit the winter sky: explore constellations and the movement of the moon. Is it time to procure a telescope, Copernicus?

Winter moons are pure magic.  

Lunar halos are created when light is refracted and dispersed through ice crystals at a 22 degree angle.These lunar halos are even more fantastic when light travels through the suspended ice and reflects off of a body of water to create long illuminated spokes.

We can witness this phenomena even through the light pollution of the city. 


 It doesn't have to be a dead planet. She is still creating: giving us colors and secrets...

Even in the City.

How will you connect to this winter?

Wishing you winter adventures,


  1. So, when should I be over for cocoa and a bonfire?

  2. What a beautiful post! Thank you for offering so many ways to apply the wisdom you have shared.