What winter means to me

I feel privileged that I live somewhere where I can fully experience the seasons. My environment changes around me four times a year. I am learning to submit to nature and allow her to guide me through the ever-changing landscape. Its much easier than fighting it which is how I used to treat winter. My ‘least-favourite’ season. I would dread its approach and lament throughout these bleak months impatiently waiting for spring.

The turning point came when I secured a 5-month placement at RSPB Abernethy reserve in the highlands. This was a fieldwork focused placement which I would be completing in the winter. Not just any winter. A winter in the Cairngorms which is renowned as one of the coldest areas of the UK. Undeterred a bought plenty of thermals and braced myself as I travelled north.

Winter hit with full force that year. We had the most snowfall that the area had had for years. However, a funny thing happened, I loved it. I loved the refreshing crisp mornings when the sun finally crept up. I enjoyed watching the steam swirl around my thermos as I perched on a snowy stump for my tea break. I fully appreciated the vibrancy of the gorse flowers which provided some small amount of colour in a dimmed landscape. Most of all, I relished in the quiet. The world was hushed. The birds were resting their voices for spring with only the odd necessary chatter awaking the silence. The trees could only creak as the broadleaves had lost their voices held in the rustle of leaves. The buzzing of insects was long finished and mammals were either sleeping or quietly focused on surviving these winter months. I felt myself mould to fit the environment as I also slowed down. My days were shorter and the tasks took longer in such a snowy landscape. My thoughts slowed with my footsteps and I paused regularly to fully immerse in the brief bird song – brilliant against the silence.

Now, winter means peace to me. I am no longer scared of this season. It is necessary and a blessing as it reminds me to slow down. The muted distractions mean that I can reflect fully and feel grateful for the little moments of joy that winter brings. Nature will tell me when its time to start awakening again as the longer days ease me into spring. I now feel a touch of sadness as the air warms and the birds let the fullness of their songs be heard. But this is nature at its best and as long as I allow her to guide me, I will always find joy in the wonders she brings. I wish a fond farewell to winter and look forward to resting with it again soon.