Friends With Winter
quick scan of my Instagram feed tells me one thing: people are really over winter. With daylight savings behind us, I expect a sharp uptick in carefully captured pink and white blossoms, green baskets overflowing with strawberries at farmers’ markets, and “dreaming of summer” captions in the next few weeks. Here in Colorado, we don’t experience our last snow day until early May. There is a general rule of thumb in the gardening community that planting anything before Mother’s Day will lead to its imminent, frozen demise.
Urban dwellers in cold, snowy climates get anxious around this time of year, though. The perpetually iced-over corner of the sidewalk by your regular coffee shops and the gray, dingy unmelted snow that line the curbs and subway stops have officially lost their whimsy.
It seems possible that drivers have gotten worse since the first snow back in October, and the sweet-sour stench of ski gear and snow boots are starting to really upset the feng shui of your foyer. Belive me, I’ve been there.
But moving to the mountains outside of Boulder has made me wholly less ‘meh’ or melancholy about the season. First, the white stuff stays white. None of that brown-grey-yellow business that, if touched, conjures fears of a staph infection.
Second, the green stays green. The lodgepole pines feel alive and earnest all year and folks up here don’t do “lawns” so nothing, invariably, goes dead. It’s quiet. Like, really quiet, save for the sound of distant neighbors felling trees for firewood or clearing a driveway with their John Deere. It’s cold but not debilitating, and on a bright day I’ve been known to split logs in my running shorts. It’s easier to make friends with winter here.
More than anything in this first mountain winter, though, I’m learning how to be more present. Present to the season, present to the moment, present to my relationships, present to my heart. We move so fast sometimes — trying to get from point A to point B, seeking “success,” trying to get more done in the day — that our lives and the seasons become something we have to get through instead of something we’re lucky to experience.
For many years I felt like I was rushing through all of it. Rushing to my yoga class, rushing through work, rushing to happy hour with friends, rushing home. Rushing through winter, yearning for summer… then getting to summer and wishing for cooler days where I didn’t have to sleep with one leg out of the covers at night.
If there’s anything I’ve learned since moving west of the city and living through late winter in the mountains, it's to spend less time yearning and more time embracing. I was out with a friend the other day who commented that talking about our problems or frustrations with the world is our greatest addiction, then posed the question: “what would happen if we talked more about what made us glad?”
Gladness, I’m convinced, is good for our health. To be glad for what is while we hustle along our path to wherever it is we’d like to go, is real happiness.
Kelsey Boyte is a freelance writer and the author of Happyolks.com.
She enjoys high-altitude hiking, deep sea fishing, mezcal, and people who don't take themselves too seriously.
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Photos and Video © Shaun and Kelsey Boyte