Sunday, December 30, 2012

Midwinter timeout

It is the period between being very active in summer and autumn and previous to the period of refreshing frosts untill the outburst of new life in spring; midwinter.
As you might have noticed I don't go out much these days. There was a lot to do at work and there was a lot to do at home, too. The weather wasn't playing along and I still lack some essential gear, such as decent footwear. Plenty of excuses to stay indoors.
For me this is a time where I turn inward more. I am not as active as before, feel tired and a little edgy, loose interest in hobbies, but I read a lot and like to watch my favorite BBC life- and earth-series again. I also want to be left alone, do not actively seek out humancompanionship or even try to avoid gatherings, meaning the celebrations at the end of december are often more of a burden than a joy.
The reason for all this is that around this time of year,  I, for some reason start processing and dealing with all the stresses of the last few months. Don't know why, it just happens. I usually am quick to adapt to new situations, but the impact these situations have on me are more longlasting. It is as if I put all the emotions in a que, waiting for the proper time for them to sink in and give the new circumstances a place within. It is as if I am mentally dealing with the previous seasons, emptying my emotional and mental self, getting them ready for the next cycle of seasons. I "die" a little, in order to be "reborn", if you will.
The past few months have been exceptionally demanding; saying farewell my best friend again and permanently,  finding a place of our own, buying a house, moving and "loosing" my job, yet still adapting to this country, people and way of life, with my kids far outpacing me, both in their adaptation and fysical and mental growth and development, leaving me behind, wondering what the hell just happened.
The weather isn't playing along either. Skies are mostly overcast and we see the sun very little, although temperatures have been low. apart from the snow, there's little light and it being dark at 15:00 doesn't help much, either. Right now a spell of thaw has hit us and temperatures are now at around 6 degrees and even don't drop below 0 at night. And with a light drizzle everything is dripping wet and grey....

I also have noticed that the kids show these kind of "symptoms", too. More than usually at least. They're tired, are less active and hang around more, squabble more than usually or retreat to their rooms. And that makes me wonder; does living in the country as we do now, make us more aware or even in tune with natural cycles? Did living in the city, with all it's artificial lights, noices and images, overpower our sences to a degree we stopped noticing the cycle of the seasons and made us ignore the effect it had on us?
And I wonder; does Mother Nature provide us with a remedy for that in the forms of some herbal tea or is it just natural to go into an almost hibernational state? All I know is that I can only hope for a real winter for the next few months, with snow and open, frosty weather. At least the days are getting longer everyday, so in a month or so there'll be noticebly more daylight.

Is it all doom and gloom, then? Absolutely not!
Apart from my dayly doings with shoveling snow, cutting wood and firing up the stove, there was offcourse christmas and for us it was the first true white christmas ever! Apart from the cover of fluffy white stuff we allready had, we got more on christmaseve and on christmasday. I don't know why it was so important to us, probably because we never had it, but we were delighted!
Celebrating this feast with just the five of us, sharing a few gifts, good food and each others company, peacefully and (relatively) quite, making it one of the years familyhighlights after all.

A few days previously we had the last full moon of the year and a chrystalclear sky. I went out and enjoyed the mysterious and yet a bit eery atmosphere. It was freezing, the air was still, there was not a sound and the moon cast a silver light over the land. It was so clear that the moon cast deep shadows on the snow. It was as if the earth had frozen in time... magical...

We have plenty of time to watch the animals around our house. The birds keep gathering here in large numbers and we were again able to identify 4 new species, being trädkrypare (Certhia familiaris),female gråspet (Picus canus), stjärtmes (Aegithalos caudatus) (claimed to be spotted by my oldest daughter and identified by her) and gråsiska (Carduelis flammea).

Also the deer regularly visit our feeder and garden and last night we could observe them for minutes on end, seeing first 2 and than the third one coming up. They left, turned and came back again. I managed to open the front door, while all 3 of them were there, and step outside without startling them! They looked at me and I looked at them, while we were a mere 10 meters apart! I was watching wild deer close by, without sending them running! I even took pictures, using the flash and still they would not run. Unfortunately my camera is no where near suitable for this kind of thing, so no pics to show you. Even talking to them in a low voice did not scare them. They just kept looking at me, their eyes focussed and their ears raised. It was untill I made a sharper noice, which sent them leaping away, but I was feeling very thrilled and privileged! The whole happening lasted a few minutes, too.

I have also begun to take my first "steps" into a new skill; skiing! Scored a set of sticks for a mere 10sek in the local secondhandstore, completing the skis that came with the house. It went relatively well, I must say. Only landed flat in the snow once, because one of the fittings came loose. And I have the perfect trainingground right around the house; flat areas, a hilly wooded area, no traffic and very few witnesses to collapse laughing.... Falling into the snow, wearing jeans, a fleece jacket and fleece fingergloves proved to be an unlucky combination. after getting up the snow froze solid on the jacket and gloves and the pants got wet. End of skiingclass!

 My wife too has been working on some new skills; preparing food with cast iron pans and skillets and yesterday she added another, making bread entirely by hand and than baking it in a clay pot, a socalled Römer Topf (Roman pot). The large loaf of bread was delicious and as we speak, there is a large moosestew simmering in our dutch oven. Can't wait!

Speaking of dayly doings; one almost went disasterly wrong! Almost seriously damaged my right indexfinger, while splitting wood. There was one piece of wood, that was cut off at an angle and so would not stand up by itself on the cutting block. With one hand I held it up and with the other I planned on tapping the splittingaxe into the wood, so that I could raise both simultaniously and than split the wood by knocking it on the block. Somehow I missed the piece of wood and nicked my indexfinger! Luckily the businessend of the blade wasn't facing straight down and it glanced off from my leather workingglove, leaving me with a torn skin, a large blue mark and a swelling around the first knuckle of said finger..... What was I thinking!!!

Which leaves me with just one more thing to do; wishing you all a very good transition into the next year. Stay safe, stay healthy and we'll be seeing each other "next year"!


  1. Winter dpressions are pretty common. Taking vitamin D during the darkest winter months is important, because lack of vitamin D can give depression like symptoms. I take a spoonfull of vitamin D rich fishoil (Tran) every morning during the winter. I like to think it helps, even though it taste &%#¤.

    The rain is pouring down in buckets reight now, and it is nothing but ice every where.

    Wish you a happy new year!


    1. The best vitamin D is being out, soaking up sunlight.
      But on short days with overcast skies for a prolonged period of time that's a problem.
      I think sitting it out and being aware of it are the only way to overcome it untill the days get longer again and more sunshine is aavailable.

  2. The stew looks amazing. Best of luck with the new hobby!

    1. It was!!
      And I just hope not to break any bones or tear any ligaments while I'm practising!

  3. I get the winter blues during the dark months and feel "half-asleep" the whole time. Then in spring something changes and I wake up again and realize the state I was in all winer. I don't know if there's any way to avoid it. :/

    It looks like you are managing to cope though, with the skiing, tasty food etc. Just watch those fingers!!! ;)

    1. I guess so, too.
      The almostmishap was a good reminder!

    2. I get the blues too but in late Spring and Summer with Hay Fever and being too hot. Winter is a huge relief for me although the daily chores and getting about each day are harder. I know just what you meen about taking time out in winter and reflecting on the past busy year though and feeling a bit tired.

  4. Hi Ron: I just stumbled upon your blog, but I wanted to leave a note to say how nice it was to read your honest words and hear about your winter exploits. These days with so little sun can make one feel dormant (I certainly get outside less, too), but maybe sometimes being forced to slow down is good? That way, when the sun and warmth and longer days come again, we're all the more eager to get out and explore, newly refreshed. :) Best of luck to you in 2013!