In Praise of Winter
As I was pulling the umptieth tick from one of my dogs this morning (the end of October, for cryin’ out loud!) it was easy to appreciate the value of a good, hard winter. Nature has a way of making me feel guilty for all the bad things I say (and think) about her–for example, after the worst drought in the history of our region, we were rewarded with spectacular fall color. In fact, walking in the woods this October was a real feast for the senses, as long as one didn’t mind pulling umpty-million ticks off afterwards.
I have always loved autumn. It triggers all my domestic “denning” instincts, and it gets me outside more frequently than any other season. I dearly love riding in an autumn woodland and sleeping with the window open on blustery fall nights under a full moon. Yeah, I love autumn. Many people do, but I so often hear them saying: “But then comes winter, and I HATE winter!” While there are certainly things to dislike about winter–the cold makes everything more difficult, the roads are often treacherous, and so on–there are a lot of benefits, too.
Last year we had one of the mildest winters on record–almost no snow and really moderate temperatures, despite dire predictions that it would be severe. I had the sense that we would pay for it later, and I think we have. The armies of ticks (worst year I’ve seen lately) provided silent testimony to the value of a proper midwestern winter–evidence that things are out of balance without one. I fully expect to be griping along with everyone else when the really cold weather hits, but secretly I’ll be thankful for the benefit we’ll all reap later on. As I’m turning up the heat and trying not to shiver, I’ll be thinking take that, you wretched arachnids!
Many folks lament the loss of productivity in the winter, and I will confess that the long dark hours are one of my least favorite aspects (true of almost anyone who has livestock). It is difficult to get all those outside chores done when it’s dark when you leave for work and dark when you come home. However, winter is a very productive time of year for me. I do a lot of writing–in fact, I traditionally start new books in December, and this year will be no exception as I am beginning work on Shadow Man. I’ll also be revising Fire-heart and writing scenarios for the RPG. A nice, long winter is just what I need!
Seasonal depression can be a real problem, but not if you’re a fantasy writer! All I have to do is turn on the computer, fall into Alterra, and the dark, dreary days fall away to be replaced with adrenaline-pumping adventure, romance, intrigue…you get the idea. Yeah, I have to seek indoor exercise for my body, but my mind–my imagination–has no restrictions. It gets more exercise in the winter than at any other time. I hear the wind howling outside the window of my loft, hunker down in my old, squeaky chair, whip out my Alterran passport, and settle in for a long, productive visit. When I finish, it will probably be early morning–just time to grab an hour or two of sleep before getting up for work. I’ll come down the stairs happy, exhausted, and excited. The story is flowing–hallelujah!
Yes, there’s a lot to love about winter. And though I know I’ll complain about the cold like everyone else, at least I might not have to pull umpty-million ticks off the dogs next year.