Over on Poets & Writers, a prompt came up which sounded interesting and timely for my weather focus.
In preparation for cold winter months, red-toothed shrews are able to shrink their head and brain mass by 20 percent and then regrow it as the weather warms up in spring. With this survival strategy, they expend less energy when food resources are scarce. Does your energy level or your relationship to your body change during certain seasons? Does your body feel, act, or respond differently in the winter? Write a personal essay about measures you’ve taken, whether moderate or drastic, to adjust your body to difficult times or discomfiting temperatures at various points of the year.
I have touched on my relationship with weather and with winter a few times but this felt like an interesting angle to approach it from. This is not an essay but rather my very initial responses to the topic of winter and me.
As winter approaches, as the icy wind creeps over the landscape, you will find me retreating. You will find me shrinking into my flat, into my bed, into my duvet. I am no longer an outside creature. No longer a creature of the weather. If I could, I would hibernate. But to do so is not possible in a human shell. So instead I adopt the next best thing. A season snuggled into my warm home, blankets, hot drinks and reassuring comfort. I will mark my days with morning chills and evenings nesting. I will conserve my energy. Only moving when necessary and even then, I leave my den reluctantly.
Pyjamas and jumpers become my layers of choice and I will not leave the house without a blanket. I am bundled up, my armour against the bitter winter. Perhaps if I wear enough layers, the wind will not chill my bones, I will not slip on black ice and damage yet more of myself, the rain will not permeate my soul only to be released as tears. Perhaps.
I move slower. The cold tires me out. My joints ache with the low temperatures. Depression pulls like a ball and chain at my ankle, holding me back as I try to step forward. So I stay still, in my nest, in a state of dormancy.
Of course, when I worked, I could not indulge myself in my semi-hibernation. I had to get up, brave the frosty mornings and skate on the black ice to the office. I had to fight my body and my mind to get out of bed, to leave the house. The darkness, the grim shadowy mornings and nights, bothered me more then. To work in the dark, a day at a desk far removed from daylight, then home in the dark.
Now, through my windows and occasional venture outdoors, I see the slither of day. I do not battle my natural instinct to retreat but accept it for what it is and it makes this time of year easier. I prepare, like a squirrel collecting nuts, only I collect ideas and projects and books that can all be carried out slowly from the safety of a blanket. I do not sleep the winter away. But nor do I expect from myself the same level of activity as summer.
I am comfortable now, secure in my knowledge that as the seasons rise and fall, so too will I.