On those lucky afternoons when I can skip out the door before the sky goes back to black I climb the hill and catch the light show. Pink is everything mid-January. Deliciously fresh, a promising kiss reminding us of all that will return in a few months. If there is enough daylight I’ll descend through the open field and in and out of the small woods where I saw a bear last summer.
Today I was struck by the sentiment found in Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” which, ironically, was published posthumously in 1681. Carpe diem then, and now. Here are the tenets: “Carpe diem is a philosophy that took hold in Europe during and after the Black Death plague (1348-1350). The population had seen so much death and destruction that some people embraced the philosophy that every day is a moment to be made the most of, whether it be to eat or to love. All of life’s pleasures are to be indulged; there is no time for waiting because tomorrow might never appear” (CourseHero). Sounds like the perfect philosophy for life after the black plague, and most certainly the days post COVID19. I think we are universally on the crest of roaring back with fervor once more!
The whole of my external world would fit every Frozen location set if need be. Snowbanks line my drive, icicles hang from the eaves, and everything is stuck in stillness. A weak sun battles the fairly constant cloud cover, as we dash about in fairly constant flurries. The temperature this past week fought to even reach single digits, and the windchill only added to the instinct to hibernate. But venture out we must. Adding layer upon layer folks find a way to get outside, to ski and take advantage of the snow in any possible way. The woods are filled with trails and ring with voices even as that north wind bites through our insulated gloves. Northerners have a well-earned hearty reputation, and I find inspiration being among so many who get outdoors regardless of what weather one must contend with.
To keep one’s mindset in the positive it is important to keep fueling yourself with all sorts of activities, outside when possible, and inside when not. There is something about moving that just makes you feel better. “Endorphins are only one of many neurotransmitters released when you exercise. Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These brain chemicals play an important part in regulating your mood” (healthline). The science of the brain spells it all out, but the real trick is finding movement that makes you smile while doing it. For me, time on the mat or in the pool are just as uplifting as a swift run. Daily, I set my schedule to include something physical, with enough time to feel fabulous afterwards.
And then there is what you put into your body. Even during the winter months we try to fuel ourselves with as much local and nutritious food as possible. The farm up the road sells eggs, another is a four-season veggie provider; keeping green in our diet, keeping seasonal and local a priority, and planning our meals, all work together to maintain health. The proverbial saying ‘You are what you eat‘ is just truth. In winter it is easy to eat heavy, and while that might feel comforting, we do include some extra summer-like salads to lighten too.
I am lucky to live with a brilliant and ambitious illuminator. Every December our home gets a chance to shine in the darkness, and we leave those lights going well into January, which just makes me happier at the end of a long day when I drive up the hill. I imagine all the weary travelers feeling the same way, and that just adds to my joy. It isn’t about flash or show, it is only a little sparkle, a subtle twinkle, and then, you take an easier breath.
Don’t forget to treat yourself too. There are days when looking out at the wind, and deciding to curl up with a book and some cocoa would just bring all the rest and relaxation of a spa day to your house-bound day. Take good care my dears. Fuel yourself for those long summer days by living well right now. With marshmallows too.