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.