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Winter Living

Living amongst the mountains and snow means I am really feeling Winter. And it has really only just started. Others living here will hit the slopes and ski/snowboard their way through winter. But, that just isn’t my thing. And this year I want to make winter as important as any other season rather than just trying to ignore it and push through to Spring.

Winter is about turning inwards, snuggling up inside duvets and extra layers and being still while the earth regenerates for a new Spring re-birth. One of my favourite books The Way of the Happy Woman by Sara Avant Stover is on my bedside table for a catch up on Winter living. In her Winter Reflections she writes

“…As women we are labyrinths, continually winding our way to the center and back out again. Our lives are endless processes of becoming. May each season, each heartbreak, each birth, each death, each sunrise and sunset remind you to live fully, feel fully, and digest everything through your heart. It’s not always easy, but it’s the only way to truly come alive. When you forget, you can always start again…..the Way is in you!”

So I have been thinking about Winter traditions and rituals in order to truly feel the season, to come into my centre and back out again.

  • Go Slow – now is the time to turn inward and sit and I think it is important for my children to do so too so they can feel the season and start to become more in tune with the it and how it affects them. There is no rush to get to Kindy or playcentre (unlike school in later years) so why hurry. Find a fire and let them sit (safely) in front of it with a hot chocolate and some hot chips. Let them play and not run around doing things all day everyday.
  • Change the family rhythms in order to match the season. A great resource are the guides from Whole Family Rhythms. Lots of ideas for art and craft too.
  • Pared back Simplicity – in order to go slow, be lazy and turn inward life needs to be kept simple. Keep the chaos at bay. And yet let go too and not worry about the mess. Letting go of all of those things I don’t really need to do in order to be simpler in my living. The washing can wait so I can sit with a cup of tea and play with my children.
  • Walks – as much as possible get outside and breathe the fresh mountain air, notice the drops of dew or old snow on the plants and trees and the mushrooms and moss. There are lots of nature walks around Queenstown that we can do. It is just so beautiful here – a great opportunity to feel nature and the season, to feel the changing textures and changing weather.
  • Be warm and cozy – so wish we had a fire to just sit and stare at. One day… But also need to remember to not get stuffy and on good days to let the air in the clear out the fluff inside and in the house! That also means that for our adventures we need to ensure we are layered up in the warmest clothing. The boys now have good snow mittens and I am about to buy these new wellies from Joules. Lots of thick socks, scarves and hats.
  • Moisturise – keep the dryness at bay with lots of good moisturiser such as Rhino Repair from Oasis. It is the best ever and made in North Canterbury so it’s local support. And lots of water or tea!
  • Forage – I have found a stash of wild rose hips growing amongst the matagouri. I’m a little excited about the find so I can feel like I am really foraging and will pick some to make rose hip syrup to keep the colds at bay. I am reading All Good Things Around Us by Pamela Michael and illustrations by Christabel King. Published in 1980 it’s a vintage pressie from family that looks like it will be great for recipes for foraged plants and flowers.
  • Celebrate mid-winter & Matariki – the Winter solstice is just around the corner so we will have a little dinner celebration to mark it. We will also celebrate the Maori New Year or Matariki with some star gazing and a dinner at Playcentre. And possibly venture into Queenstown for the Winter Parade or other activities of the Winter Festival.
  • More Reading – I love books and love new books. New ones to pour through during the cold winter nights (post kid’s bed time) are on a plant-based wholefoods theme:
  • Light Candles – love the ambience of candles. We always light a candle at dinner time to provide a routine and rhythm for our children but I think it will be nice to light more during the night once they are asleep. Simple beeswax are the best.
  • Decorate the house – we are living in a rental but we could still add a few things to cozy up the house or add a festive touch. Deep reds, greens, browns and greys. I think we need a few new cushions or rugs. I also bought a couple of these lovely organic cotton star pillowcases from Nature Baby for the boys and added copper LED fairy lights to their room. The blankets are all out and strewn over the back of couches as well. I also want to try making a wreath (again) for the front door. There are lots of places I can snaffle plant material – pines and rose hips for a start. As well as clove studded oranges. Maybe I could find a branch of pine tree to put in a corner and hang dried apple decorations from it (#ideasgettingbeyondtimeIhave). I do love the interior décor of Danish company tine k. A few more ideas here on Pinterest.
  • Nourishing Food – hearty soups, root vegetables, porridge, nuts and dried fruit are all in use at the moment. As well as lovely little muffins. This is what fuels our bodies at this time of the year and I am looking for more ideas from the new books above. And definitely some mulled wine. A good mulled wine is warming and the spices are very evocative of mid-winter.
  • Nourishing Smells – memories are often associated with smells and I love the scents of winter. Pine, orange, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg. I have  a great little potpourri I made a few years ago with pine cones foraged from Conical Hill in Hanmer Springs and homemade dried oranges. New  clove studded oranges and this potpourri will come out to scent the house.
  • Be still and listen – take the time to be lazy and just sit and listen to what comes up and dream a little which leads to…
  • Think and Evolve – have a think about how we will want to change come Spring. What can we let go of and what do we need to nourish? What areas of my life need attention and what do I need to do to move forward?

I have a few projects too and an overseas trip in August but otherwise it will be feeling the everyday, watching the weather change around the mountains and (trying not to get bored or cabin fever) and remembering to just be lazy and let it go, be still and dream. And play in the snow!

What are your winter traditions and rituals?

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