Winter snuck up on me this year. It seems like just yesterday that I was returning home from Japan, with the end of summer and all of fall ahead of me. The leaves were still green, the air was still warm, and friends gathered around the fire pit outside. Now, the first snow of the season has come and gone, and the second coat still covers the ground. The gatherings have moved inside, into the small cabin, where we cram around the woodstove after Wednesday night rides in an almost claustrophobia-inducing manner while some concoction is cooked in our new cast-iron skillet.
It’s a little harder to get motivated this time of year. Removing oneself from the cocoon of blankets in the morning takes more willpower. Getting dressed to embark on some outdoor adventure takes a little more effort and often requires some trial and error experimentation to figure out what works and what doesn’t, what’s too warm and what’s not warm enough. Darkness comes early, so during the week any post-work outdoor pursuits must be done with headlamps.
It’s easy to get sucked into a sedentary routine day after day, to give in to the temptation to stay curled up by the fireplace instead of heading out into the frigid outdoors. But the winter world is beautiful and peaceful, a new perspective on a familiar landscape. Snow seems to make the world glow, even at night, and provides yet another medium in which to play. ‘Tis the season for fat-bikes and skies, snowshoes and sleds.
And this winter offers yet another adventure, that of life in the cabin in the woods—chopping wood outside in the snow and sleet because it’s the only way the house will be warm, waking up in the middle of the night to feed the woodstove, washing dishes outside on the porch in sub-freezing temperatures. Yes, it can be a pain sometimes. But I’ve discovered that I love chopping wood (to the point that I have to restrain myself), and waking up and stepping outside in the freshly-fallen snow and not seeing or hearing another soul, or being able to get on a bike or go for a hike right out our front door without getting in a car makes it all worth it and then some.
This winter will be full of great things, of exploration and new experiences, of chilly but wonderful outdoor pursuits followed by nights warmed by the fire and the company of those we love. I’m excited for epic fat-bike rides and my first Frozen Fat experience. I’m looking forward to breaking out my skis, going for night hikes in the snow under a full moon, and perhaps even spending some time freezing my ass off on a winter camping trip.
It’s time to embrace this cold and snowy season, and all it has to offer.