The dark half of the year

I have struggled with winter for a long time, and so the darkening days of autumn can leave me feeling gloomy. This year I have committed to trying to find happier ways through the dark half of the year.

The first thing to say is that there’s a lot of privilege tied up in finding the winter easy. Money for comforts, a washing machine, a tumble drier, the means to dry clothes, enough clothes that getting soaked through isn’t a problem. Enough money for heating and eating, and for the food to be of a good quality that will keep you going. If you get to the autumn anxious about what a hard winter will do to your energy bill, inevitably it’s not going to be easy. If the cold and damp increases pain, it’s not a cheerful prospect.

I’ve been in those places. For many of us, bad weather, slippery surfaces or snow can be really isolating. For the elderly, a fall can be a death sentence. Cold kills people. Cold makes homes damp, and damp homes grow mould, and mould is not good for people. This year, we will be buying a dehumidifier, so we won’t have to have a cold home from opening windows each day to keep it dry. This is a luxurious prospect.

In previous winters, the dark nights, the footing and my energy levels have kept me in, and left me feeling isolated. This is one of the major things I intend to do better with this year. We’ve bought a head torch, a small luxury that means walking in the dark will be safer and we can use all the summer shortcuts. I’ve got better at spoon juggling, and I mean to use that to make sure I can get out at least a few times each month for evening events. Not having a car, winter transport is challenging, but with better kit, we can do it. Of course not everyone can afford better kit, or a car, or the fares for public transport.

The more marginal your way of life is, the greater a need there is for warmth and comfort in the winter months. With this body, I won’t be skipping through the snow at any point. But, I know where to get saunas if the cold causes too much pain, and this year, if I need it, I will go. It’s all about having a little flexibility in the budget. Small differences can make very large differences, and I intend to make the very best of everything I can so that this winter is less depressing for me, and for anyone else around me I can manage to extend some cheer to.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

10 responses to “The dark half of the year

  • Siobhan Johnson

    I was always a winter person, but ever since Mystery Illness has given me some chronic pain issues, I’ve always avoided the cold and damp. But the other night I nipped out to stick some rubbish in the bin, and just the smell of the night and the view of the stars really cheered me up. I might not be able to cope with the winter walks I used to take, but I’m lucky enough to be able to sit out in the night with a blanket and a hot water bottle for half an hour, and there’s a certain sort of joy in that. I’ll miss my winter walks, but I won’t miss out on winter like I did the past few years.

    Small victories and all that.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    The main thing is that you are thinking about your own needs for this time of year and not making any excuses over doing whatever is necessary to make it easier. That is as it should be.

  • Widdershins

    We bought a dehimidifier the first winter we were here on our little island in the middle of a lake in the middle of a temperate rainforest, 🙂 and it has made such a difference. We average about a liter of water per run.

  • lingib

    As an osteoarthritis sufferer, I understand where you are coming from. I worry constantly about having enough money for heating.

  • Sheila North

    We have hot water this autumn & winter, which is something we didn’t have last year. V grateful for this, and for double glazing at front. No central heating, but then we’ve not had that for nearly 30 years. Gas fire usually comes on around Samhain. I am a bit more nervous about ice, snow, etc., now that I know my bones aren’t what they used to be. Maybe a bit of Tai Chi is in order, for balance.

    A safe & happy overwintering to you & yours.

  • Nimue Brown

    I do, I have lousy balance and little confidence, and wonky ankles that mean I fall easily. They have radically reduced the fear and difficulty. I have walked up steep, ice coated hills in these like Legolas dancing over a mountain!

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