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A cure for the winter blahs

I am a Prairie girl at heart, I guess. I love clear blue skies and bright days. I love having four distinct seasons, each with its own weather, its own colours. I don’t like being cold, but I don’t mind bundling up if there is sunshine to warm my soul. In the grey, wet days we have so often here in January, bundling up alone does not take away the blahs.

Even when the clouds aren’t thick, the sky isn’t really blue.

I am not particularly fond of grey. Perhaps it is connected to my love of food. There are no grey foods. (The closest I came was trying to mix frozen blueberries into biscuit dough; the result was a weird sort of mauve-grey that was not appealing, but at least still tasty.) I prefer plenty of flavour and colour, in all aspects of my life.

When I say I find solace in food, I don’t mean like eating a tub of ice cream in one night. I prefer to savour things…

  • A cup of tea on a damp day is just the thing to warm one’s bones
  • A cookie can make one forget sadness, even if just for a moment
  • A bowl of soup really does help one’s soul, and it doesn’t have to be made with chicken

All of these things are a way for me to guard against those winter blahs, or to celebrate another day of having survived them.

I am grateful for a fully stocked pantry, and a companion at the table. I am grateful for my cabinet full of cookbooks, like old friends who can regale me with stories of the good old days. I am most grateful for my health; that I can still reach to gather ingredients, get down the stairs to the pantry and back up, bend over for a peek in the oven… even with all the groans from me and creaks from the joints, I realize these are blessings indeed.

In the age of Covid, having my sense of smell and taste are gifts I celebrate more than ever. Is that why I am even more conscious of savouring flavours and aromas? Or perhaps it is the lack of ability to travel that makes me search the spice cupboard for exotic options.

We cannot visit foreign lands or even visit a friend or relative for tea, but we can still eat. The direct connection of our olfactory system to our memory means that we are hardwired to remember experiences when we smell things we have smelled before.

So, my cure for the blahs is to feed my hunger. My hunger not just for food, but for flavour and excitement. It is harder to sustain in the bleakness of winter, especially in these times of lockdowns and restrictions, but I will keep cooking and keep eating, and keep toasting to everyone’s good health. Cheers!

“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”

― M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

More Shades of Grey than I can count

I couldn’t help it, the urge was too great. The range of emotions I have felt over the last few weeks has been a roller coaster ride of epic proportions, encompassing passion, melancholy, lust and even anger. I had to share my experience.

I am speaking of course about the wonder of our autumn season this year, the ever-changing colours of the foliage spanning more than two glorious months with each day showcased under a new variation of grey. I feel as though I have been watIMG_4058ching a symphony being composed.IMG_3752

016e3521d3983acedf1539c2b208982ac2560217ddIMG_2369In honour of the allusion I put in my title, I wanted to suggest a tribute to this spectacular season. So, I am offering 50 ways we can appreciate the wonder of autumn, and the passing of life in general. I’ve started my list in my Happy Gourmand Castanet column and I listed more suggestions on my Happy Gourmand Facebook page. I include ten below, and I’ll wrap up with my last 10 on Remembrance Day on Facebook.

1. Take a walk in the morning and start your day with a dose of appreciation for the fresh air and all of Mother Nature’s fine work, including the shade of grey.

2. Spend a quality moment with your kids (if you don’t have kids or can’t borrow some, a pet will do just fine.) Enjoy their company, listen to what they have to say. They might surprise you with their honest view on things. It might show you a new shade 🙂

3. Perform a random act of kindness and watch the grey lift away.

4. Bake some cookies and taste a little sweetness to lighten a particularly dark day. Might I suggest my Tropical Delight cookies?

5. Listen to music and tap your toes to something that will make you see all the colours of the rainbow.   

6. Take a yoga class. Stretch, relax, and maybe make a new friend.

7. Invite friends over for dinner. Even if it’s a potluck, the shared company will brighten the greyness.

8. Go see a movie with a friend. Share your popcorn, laugh afterwards about the funny parts, or share a meaningful look if it was sad. The grey will be forgotten for at least a moment.

9. Send a card to a faraway friend and tell them how much you miss them. You will brighten your day and theirs!

10. Simply take a moment and breathe deep. Feel grateful. That’s all.

foggy winter morning Rabbit Hollow

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