Time outside in Winter offers its rewards--pristine settings, a feeling of adventure, and the beauty of nature's muted palette. But let's face it. Winter tends to be a time of huddling indoors and enjoying warmth and shelter. In this way, we are no different than our fellow animals, and as with the shelters of other animals, our shelters make use of available natural features and materials.
Consider caves and simple built structures, such as earthen pits covered with thatched roofs and tents. Writes Roma Agrawal in her delightfully informative and readable book Built: The Hidden Stories Behind our Structures,
For a long time ... humans simply built from the materials that Nature provided, without changing their fundamental properties. Our ancient ancestors' dwellings were made from whatever they could find in their immediate surroundings: materials that were readily available and could be easily assembled into different shapes. With a few simple tools, trees could be felled and logs joined to create walls, and animal skins could be tied together and suspended to form tents.
Nowadays, amid canyons of concrete, steel, and glass skyscrapers, it may feel like a stretch to imagine these simple structures occupying the land that is now New York City. But these were the structures used by the indigenous Lenape people and by European settlers, and many of the engineering principles of these structures find expressions in the giant skyscrapers that give Manhattan its signature skyline.
It's a new year and a new decade, a time for new beginnings and, with a nod to the number of the year we've entered, perhaps clearer vision of what we hope the coming time will bring.
While we often think of Spring, with its plant life bursting forth, as a time of awakenings, Winter's shorter daylight hours and colder temperatures offers a time to retrench, restore, and rejuvenate, to collect one's energies and dive deeply into one's inner creativity. Indeed, writes the Italian poet Pietro Aretino, "Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius." One also is reminded of T.S. Eliot's lines from The Wasteland:
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
While nature, with its withered stalks, may appear dormant in winter, there is a drawing inward that supports life and growth. Writes Gary Zukov,
The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory.
Allow yourself time during these wintry days to draw within, nurture, and replenish.
About this Blog
Hi! I'm Nancy Kopans, founder of Urban Edge Forest Therapy. Join me on an adventure to discover creative ways to connect with nature in your daily life, ways that are inspired by urban surroundings that can reveal unexpected beauty, with the potential to ignite a sense of wonder.