"The first snow is like the first love." - Lara Biyuts
It's been a week since retuning from holidays in the sunny Southeast Asian tropics, and I couldn't have come home to a place of more contrast. While I was away, Finland has turned into the most magical winter wonderland.
The first few days back were hard. Coming back to a different temperature and timezone is always tough on the body. I'm talking bleeding noses, peeling skin, chapped lips, and sore, aching muscles. But I was surprised by how quickly I adjusted back - by Thursday everything was back to normal again. Skin, sleeping schedule, and everything else in between, helped along by multiple sauna sessions and green juice every morning.
I was prepared for the physical adjustment. But nothing prepared me for how surprised and delighted I felt coming home to find my entire neighborhood transformed into something like a scene right out of Narnia. Snow-covered branches glistening in the moonlight is possibly one of the most magical and majestic gifts nature has to offer.
"Kindness is like snow - it beautifies everything it covers." - Kahlil Gibran
The snow also means shorter days and fewer hours on sunlight. It means all the potted plants in our house are slowly dying, except for the hardy money plant which is still thriving despite the limited light. And so this past week I've been slowly moving dead plants out to the backyard, clearing away the Christmas decorations, and doing a bit of tidying up of the house. If summer keeps one busy with mowing the lawn and pulling weeds from the garden, winter is the time for reorganizing whatever is indoors. And yes... We've both been watching the new Netflix series, "Tidying up with Marie Kondo", and enjoying the new little tips and tricks for keeping organised. (We read her book two summers ago and I finally got my laundry act together after doing it... This year it's on to tackling what's hidden away behind drawers and doors!)
Likewise, if summer means lounging by the beach, stand up paddling, and running along forest trails, winter is the time for gymming indoors and getting back to weight training. It's also (let's be honest) a chance to catch up on all the Netflix series I've left unfinished (and start some new ones too), and get back into the rhythm of regular baking.
While there are brief moments where I miss the sunny blue skies and going outdoors with just a cardigan, most days I wake up and feel the crisp, cold air on my cheeks and look at the white fluffy snow lining the roads... And I absolutely love it. Instead of firing up our BBQ grill we're making curries, stews, and casseroles. Instead of slapping on sunscreen we're layering on moisturiser, and instead of sipping iced teas we're still enjoying the last of the cinnamon-y goodness from last Christmas' glögi. There may be some things to leave behind in every season, but there are an equal amount of wonderful things to look forward too as well.
I'm learning everyday in conversations with different people and colleagues that you can be born in the Nordics and still hate the cold. And you can be born in the tropics and only been through two winters in 28 years, and still feel like a kid in a candy shop while running to catch the bus. One person's nightmare is another person's fairytale, indeed! And I'm learning as well that it's not where we come from that defines our unique preferences, likes, and personality. What is within us will always be there, and sometimes, it takes being brave enough to venture to new lands to find what you were missing all along.
"Snow isn't just pretty. It also cleanses our world and our senses, not just of the soot and grime... but also of a kind of weary familiarity, a taken-for-granted quality to which our eyes are all too susceptible." - John Burnside