We’ve had such a lovely mild-to-warm climate change autumn, but then it went too far. Last week we had muggy, 80° hurricane weather. It felt all wrong. But suddenly a cold front rolled in, which led to the melancholy Axl Rose described (cold November rain). This morning, 30° daylight broke across frosty lawns and shriveled flowers. After weeks of jacket-free days and slightly cool evenings, late fall has finally arrived. And, as usual, I feel a bit devastated by barren trees and an almost constant chill in my hands and feet.

Winter is the season when I struggle most. But if I’ve learned anything from these last few months of intense therapy, it’s that mundane sources of joy reveal themselves every single day when I stop resisting the inevitable and just let life happen. So in the spirit of making the most of this sudden season, here are some things I actually enjoy about winter:

  • A respite from the humidity My crackers stay crunchy, my bread won’t mold so fast, my hair frizzes less, and the wet clothes I hang on the laundry rack will actually dry.
  • The absence of leaves changes the sky in interesting ways I see more sunlight in my home, more blue sky on clear days, more interesting cloudscapes on gray days, more full moon through criss-crossed branches. And it’s so quiet when a breeze rolls over the trees–nothing to flutter.
  • Couch cocooning How I love the comfort of a throw blanket! But not as much as my dog loves to burrow beneath it and curl up against my side. We make great blanket buddies. I get way more dog snuggles this time of year.
  • Savoring hot liquids This is when I get to lean into my love of tea, cocoa, cider, soup, and showers. If I’m not taking a hot shower, I’m probably pressing a warm mug of something against my sternum.
  • The green that remains is so green Thank goodness for the deep, unmissable hue of ivies, hollies, and evergreens. It took me a while to appreciate this about Carolina Piedmont winters. The weather may be chilly, nasty, wet and muddy everywhere, the colors of spring and autumn just distant dreams or memories. Yet there is always some green to be seen, and it is quite vibrant compared to everything around it.
  • Southern snow storms Sometimes it snows, the whole town shuts down, and we all go out and play in this strange, shimmering powder landscape. The prettier it is, the more days off you get.
  • Quality time with the sun My frenemy and I get along way better in winter, when long sleeves and pants are a must and only my face requires SPF 50. No need to worry about sweating off sunblock! I can walk so freely in the sunlight. Winter is the one time of year I crave the beach, so ready to bask in solar glow.
  • No mosquitos ‘Nuff said.
  • My kid loves winter My theory is that everyone hates whatever season was harshest in the place where they grew up. I suspect no matter how long I live in the south, I will always carry within my bones the sensation of sleeping in a cold Michigan basement bedroom. My daughter, on the other hand, is a southern native. She hates summer. She wants to scream every time she enters a sunbaked car on a 90° day. Cold air suits her just fine. And I benefit from her good attitude as we wait for the car to warm up on a freezing morning (even if I’m a bit of a grump).
  • I get to be an awful busybody about how other people dress for the weather Honestly, I groan at least once a day at the things I see. Hoodies are not coats! No hat on a 20° day?! Hypothermia is gonna mess you up way worse than wearing a big, shapeless coat will. Who cares about being fashionable? THIS IS NOT THE SEASON FOR SKIMPING ON FABRIC. (I could go on, but you get the idea — my know-it-all self thrives this time of year.)
  • It’s homebody season I love home. I love domiciles. Always have. I love being in a warm, familiar place with my little family more than anything. I like filling that space with the smell of good food, enjoying a tasty meal at the dining room table, then curling up on the couch to watch TV. I also love hanging out in my bedroom, reading or writing on the bed, or meditating on my cushion. I love to not go out much, except to enjoy long walks around my town. The pandemic has taught me how to expand my sense of home beyond these four walls. I’ve learned that I really love this hilly old town. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I feel really at home and rooted in this city. I love walking and exploring, finding new parks, neighborhoods, and places to love. But the best part, always, is coming back to the house where my husband, kid, and dog reside. The emotional warmth I absorb from the people who love me most feels highly seasoned when I’m literally coming in from the cold. It’s the reward I get for embracing the elements.
A view of downtown Winston-Salem that can only be seen when the leaves go away

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