Is it just me or does it seem a bit like the world has stopped, with grey days and snowy ground? It seems not even the birds talk much this time of year, except on those rare days that we see blue sky and that beautiful sun. I don't mind it too much - winter doesn't last very long in our part of the world so even if you're not a fan it's a short inconvenience. But it certainly is a contrast to the buzz of spring and new shoots, or the cacophony of summer splashing and kids playing, or even the more melancholy whisper of autumn winds and rustling leaves. It makes me think we should pay attention to this season as we do to the others and celebrate its character.
If you are someone who loves to ski or snowboard, then of course you might think I don't "get" winter. Folks who enjoy the outdoors in the cold love the thrill of enjoying brisk air and they often enjoy the hearty meals that follow such activities, too. You tend to feel guilty enjoying that hearty stew if you've been a couch potato, though.
I propose a compromise; I am someone who can't do too much outdoors as I just get too cold, and my nose runs and my eyes water... I'm a wimp. I do take great pleasure in my walks with the dogs in the orchard and fields around Rabbit Hollow, where we get to monitor the tracks of all the critters that pass through our neck of the woods. I take photos of the picturesque winter landscape and then I tromp home to blow my nose. I get more exercise inside, and I continue to eat some "summery meals" so that I can have winter dishes. We eat salad for dinner at least once a week in the winter, just adding a boiled egg or a bit of grilled chicken or fish to fill out the meal. Then on another night we can still enjoy something more substantial like a braised lamb shank or even a Moroccan couscous.
That's what we're doing this Sunday, is having some friends over to share a big pot that will be bubbling away all afternoon. Maybe I'll ask them to bundle up and we'll walk the dogs through the orchard before dinner, so we can say we braved the elements! Then we can open up a richly flavoured bottle of red wine and stoke the fire and toast to our good health.
The days are getting longer, and this little bit of cold won't last. Soon we'll be watching the fruit trees blossom and then we'll be basking in the Okanagan heat, bragging about how wonderful we have it here in Paradise. Or maybe you're one of those people reading this column from someplace down south, and you're smirking at me trying to wax poetic about the beauty of winter? Ah well, whatever works, I suppose. Whether you're toasting with a full-bodied red wine or a margarita, if you're enjoying the food and the company, that's what counts!