What winter means to me

Feeling the season. Feeling the change of seasons. Inhabiting the long cycles.

An embrace.

A deeper, physical connection to other aspects of my identity. The windswept seasides and frosty mountainsides of family homes in Greece. The ever-white mountainscapes of Swiss collaborations. The focused work and critical explorations of Dessau and Berlin and Stockholm. The darlings I miss in Paris and London. The unimaginably icy-cold depths of prairie province Canada. That instant connection to another place, so very far away.

The experience of the return of those aspects of my identity as a seasonal event. The experience of my own identity as cyclical, as composed of daily and yearly and much longer cycles, very long cycles. 

Reflection and retreat.

The way our coats and gloves are taken when we arrive at someone’s home, and then returned when the time has come to say goodbye. Architectures for welcoming people into our homes. For taking that time. Interstitial spaces to trap warmth; hearths to focus our relationships to one another.

Rituals of entering and leaving your own home. An extra moment of care. 

Preparing for the winter with an autumn retreat somewhere colder and on higher ground. Intensive writing in the mornings. Exploration in the afternoons. Reading in the evenings. Writing again after supper.

The rituals we create for ourselves.

The periods in our lives when our bodies take over, demanding constant care and all of our attention. Long convalescences. Wintry embraces under cosy couch blankets. Reading in bed. Trapping the warmth to restore the body. 

Ο ήλιος είναι γιατρός, my father would say, but he would only say it in winter. 

The chill of Antarctic wind blasting through my hair. That instant focus. Sensations, intensities redistributed across the body, scattered into a thousand places, my cheeks rosy, my eyes clear.

In the space of a moment I am with my sister again, I am with my grandparents, I am with collaborators, I am exploring new places and making new work. The longest of cycles, understood with new immediacy.

Space and time collapsed into a moment. 

I am indebted to the ABC’s Matilda Marozzi for inspiring these reflections for her ABC Everyday piece Why slowing down in winter could help your mental health, published today. Image: high up in the Toolangi State Forest on one of my writing retreats. The Regional Arts Victoria 4WD offers a magnificent sense of scale.