In the Bleak Midwinter

photo by M. Reynolds
photo by M. Reynolds

Give me one word to describe how you’re feeling. Cold? Disgusted? Tired? Apathetic?

Oh, sorry, that’s just me. We’re heading out of January next week, but the cold isn’t going anywhere. And I am usually the last person to complain about it. Cold is better than sticky, sweaty humidity. I stand pretty much alone on that one, I know.

But I’ve noticed, in speaking and writing with friends lately, that the midwinter blues is all around me. It’s partly seasonal – we’re months away from spring here in New England, and even though there’s more daylight in the afternoon than there was a month ago, February and March can be very difficult months for weather and mood. It’s partly physical – we hibernate when the temperature is in the twenties. Or teens. Or single digits and even negative for much of the country. We wear lots of layers. And, of course, there are the telltale signs that all that festive eating weeks ago has finally caught up. For some people, the bills from the holidays have arrived and yikes! Even if you didn’t overspend in December, your heating bill is going to be high.

So. Bleak. We can wallow, and some days I’m all for wallowing. Or we can seek out the light, find a reason to wake up joyful. Here’s my list:

  • Coffee in the morning. Dark roast. Hot. Warm mug in hands.
  • Flannel – soft and worn in. Can’t wear that in the summer!
  • Soups and stews. On the stove, in the crockpot. A meal in a bowl.
  • Root vegetables. Turnips, carrots, onions, parsnips, leeks. Still trying to learn to like beets. Give me time.
  • Meeting up with friends (as long as we’re not snowed in).
  • Writing! Because I don’t want to be outside anyway.

I want to hear yours – come on, you can find one positive thing about this time of year. Double-dog dare you (and no licking the metal flagpole).

18 thoughts on “In the Bleak Midwinter

  1. Before you laugh because I live in MIAMI, FLORIDA – I grew up in New York and still have a house in the Twin Cities where I worked and I rent out and we happen to be having a horrible winter between what is cool (for us) and all the rain. I believe that qualifies me. 🙂
    The only thing I wanted to say is I was worried when I read this post because I don’t want dear Martha to be sad. Please eat some chocolate, get some of those SAD lights or come visit me. It’ll probably seem warm to you. I’m serious.
    xooxo cindy


    1. Love you, Cindy! Thank you for that. I’m okay – today is cold but SUNNY! Cold passes, eventually, and the days grow longer. And yes, a little bit of dark chocolate, full of antioxidants, is a sure-fire mood lifter! xoxo


  2. Martha as you know this girl is a summer breach girl. This winter my next town over has a pool I’m going to swim my wintern blues away! I’ll let you know how its working for me, But I also love coming home from work and cuddling up on the couch and watching my favorite shows, I also love going to the movies matinee when it snows.


  3. FOOTBALL. It’s almost over for the season, but I enjoyed the post-season and still have the Super Bowl to look forward to. I also love snuggling under the fleece blanket and watching White Collar marathons. Or reading great books! Winter’s not all bad. If it weren’t for the germs and the gray days, I’d like it just fine.


  4. I am a bleak mid-winter baby and that gives me one BIG reason to love this time of year – NOT! I jest, of course i love the freezing cold, the damp, the rain, the short days – why on earth would anyone want to be born in summer?
    Ummm, one good reason to love this time of year? Got it!! I don’t need to put on a bikini or swimsuit and then burst into tears, stood in front of a mirror! 😀


  5. My hot flashes don’t feel as bad in the winter! Frankly, it’s easier to get warmer in the winter than it is to get cooler in the summer, right?! Looking forward to longer days and sunshine! Happy winter, Martha!


  6. Can’t imagine being there with you – it has been cold in Texas but no ice or snow so still can get out and about. Still good weather for hot coffe, hot cocoa and stews and soups.


  7. Yes, this has been a bleaker than usual winter. Even here in Florida the temperatures are all over the map. We came here this year because I suffer from SAD at this time of year in St. Louis. I will say that although it is way colder than normal…there has been enough sunshine to alleviate my normal depression and inclination to hibernate during this never ending month. I feel for my friends and family who are suffering this horrific, cold, snowy winter. I wish you could all be here with me!


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