If you’ve been reading my previous Best of Seasons (like this one for autumn and this one for summer) you know the basic formula. I ramble on and on, waxing lyrical about birds and flowers and leaves, gushing in a teenage fashion about how it’s like my favourite season evah and telling you what I read, listened to, ate and wore. It really is riveting stuff.
And then. Winter.
You know how I feel about winter. Perhaps, to you, winter is the zzsshhhh of snowboard against powder, the bracing freshness of the air, the prickling, life-affirming cold against your skin and the opportunity to snuggle and nest and make spiced hot chocolate. But to me winter is sagging tracksuit bottoms, rosy, sticky-with-snot cheeks of unwell small people, a chill that won’t leave my bones, early darkness and pervasive malcontent.
So I guess it’s fair to admit this is less of a “Best of Season” and more of a survival guide. Here goes. Here’s what I can recommend in order to make it through:
Read great books (of course). I loved “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell, the gorgeous, illustrated, understated “A Finders Magic” by Phillipa Pearce, more short stories by Patricia Grace and beautiful poetry by Canadian John Steffler.
Watch great movies. “Her” and “Grand Budapest Hotel” were my two favourites.
Continue indoctrinating all your friends about the charms of HBO’s series “GIRLS” just so you can talk about Adam. (You’re welcome, Faithy)
Get the heck out of dodge. We went to Europe for three weeks, which was new and mad and blessed and challenging and wonderful. Imagine if you could do that every year? Just imagine…. sigh… What? I’m an idealist? Say what? Fantasist, you reckon? So?!? Sniff.
Go to great exhibitions. The Bees and I went to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit at the Auckland Museum twice it was simply that engaging.
Smell good. I haven’t worn perfume for years, possibly a decade, but the duty-free shop in Paris tempted me and I succumbed (Paris? Duty-free? You see my problem). In winter my hair is ratty, my nails peel, my skin is wrinkled and papery and I suffer from all manner of first world problems. So it’s pretty nice to smell nice and pretty. I bought Hermes’ “Un Jardin Apres La Mousson” which translates as Garden after the Monsoon. What does a garden smell like after a monsoon? Ummm… ahh… like my wrists?? (spot the novice)
Post countless photos of baked things on instagram.
Consider getting a dog. Become a bit obsessed with your local SPCA website.
Listen to good tunes. Reflecting my winter attitude is: “Miss Misery” by Elliot Smith. More optimistic: “#88” by Lo Fang. The Ultimate, Best, Funniest, Awesomest Love Song of 2014 (in my humble opinion): “Pickles in a Jar” by Courtney Barnett. And, finally, this one which is just plain cool and, dare I say it, sexy?: “No more Honey” by Blonde Redhead.
Make damn fine food. I made my first carrot cake (I know, really?) with lemon mascarpone icing and it was yum with an abundance of mmmm. I also got into fruit crumbles served with scoops of vanilla ice-cream. Crumbles do actually taste better in winter, I’ll grudgingly admit.
Eat chocolate (apply this advice to every season. Especially dark chocolate with sea salt)
Immerse yourself in good, soulful things. This post by Beth Kirby of blog Local Milk is beautiful, authentic, bracing and hopeful and here is another great talk from Elizabeth Gilbert about success, failure and the drive to keep creating. Finally, if all else fails, climb into a deep bath. Ahhhhh.
Winter and I don’t exactly see eye-to-eye but the season has offered up some pretty awesome stuff. Besides which, it’s spring tomorrow…hoorah! So winter can go on and get gone with its bad self.
Then again, in the spirit of clouds with silvery linings, the first thing B1 said to me this morning, hair askew and a pyjama leg hitched up to the knee (both of us), was “Oh! I have tears coming out of my eyes because you are so beautiful.” Ha!! Bless you, kiddo. Serves to remind me that I’d better not keep wishing away seasons or one morning I’ll be waking up to a teenager.
* Why are you writing again? I thought I was going to be hearing from Amanda?! *
Sorry for the double dose of moi; Amanda Quayle is currently gearing up for her last contribution to Fork and Fiction; her final post, to arrive in your inbox and on your screens THIS TIME NEXT WEEK (that’s Sunday arvo, September 7th) Collective gasp of horror and despair! It’s okay, it’s okay, she will still be blogging about her adventures over at Graze the Earth, which I do hope you are already reading because it’s about food and travel and living amongst acrobats.
Amanda’s final post will be an interview with her very talented husband, Skip, chef for Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza. She would like you to submit your questions for him; everything you have ever wanted to know from or about a chef. Favourite ingredients, kitchen pet peeves, tricksy chef shortcuts, secret / shameful food loves….you name it she’ll ask it. Send in your questions! You can leave a comment here or over at our facebook page.