Dear Winter,

Dear Winter,

Look, I know that you know I’ve not been your greatest fan. Ok, that’s an understatement, I’ve never liked you. Looking back I don’t think you’ve really ever done anything wrong. It’s not like I have some overriding memory logged in my childhood of a Winter catastrophe, but when I feel you approaching something in me shifts, and for years I’ve spent your season just looking forward to the clocks changing, bringing lighter evenings, sunshine and warmth.

It starts in Autumn. I love the colours of Autumn, but I’ve never trusted Autumn. It’s like the season approaches, looking all beautiful, leaves falling, still some late warmth in the sunshine, but I can see that it’s holding something hidden behind its back, its eyes looking elsewhere, never really catching mine directly.

“What have you got there Autumn?” I ask.

Autumn continues not to catch my eye. “….nothing…”

“Yes, you have. There. Behind your back.”

“Oh… you mean this?” Autumn replies, holding out before her a single snowflake and icicle.

And then I know that soon all of these colours will have gone. All of the leaves will have fallen leaving bare branches reaching up to silver-blue or dull-grey skies. The cold will come, and ice will cover windscreens, birds will be searching for food, and the fields will be earth brown.

No, I’ve never trusted Autumn.

I’ve recently been exploring the poetry and traditions of my Anglo-Saxon ancestors. It has to be said that they didn’t like you either. Poems from The Exeter Book describe you as a prison, a prison of ice and cold. Something to get through, to struggle and persevere, to dig deep and survive until the bliss of Spring. I think I have more in common with those ancestors than I realised.

At some of my shows, I’ve asked The Winter People to put up their hands and there are many. I have friends who love you and I’ve asked those friends what it is they love so much. Peace, calm, the chance to slow down, knowing that the Earth needs rest too, that all of life is still there, just resting and waiting. It’s always possible to put on more clothes when it’s cold, but you can only take so many clothes off when it’s too hot.

Slowly, with the help of those friends, I’ve learned to see those gifts too.

So I’m writing this letter to tell you that I now understand. That I haven’t been spending your time this year wishing you away. That I have felt your presence and know in my very soul that you are not only necessary but also bring with you your own unique gifts. They are not, and never have been, so obvious as the bluebell-carpeted woodland, or the joyous return of the Swift. Yours is a more delicate offering – at least between the Winter Storms, but I have also noticed that most of those big storms belong to your kin, late Autumn and early Spring.

Your gift is transformation and gestation. Your gift truly is peace and calm. Your gift is the clarity of your night sky, Orion clear and true. Your gift is frozen mud on a woodland walk, and sunlight-covered woodland floors with fingers of bare branches coaxing and welcoming in the light, before the woodland floor is darkened once more with the fresh green leaves of Spring. I have needed your peace more than ever this year. Particularly over the last month. I thank you for holding me gently in your light and darkness. I thank you for your stillness. I will never again take you for granted, nor wish you away – the sacred lessons you teach have taken all of my life to understand, but now they are with me.

As you begin to leave, and Spring arrives, know I am not wishing you away this year, and that I will welcome you with open arms when the Wheel has turned once more, and we call out the names of our beloved dead at Summer’s End.

In peace,


13 responses to “Dear Winter,”

  1. Each season is an Earth learning experience. We need, more than ever, to pulsate along with the planet. Human beings are so disconnected from everything, from their essence…
    Despite being in the southern hemisphere, in the middle of summer, your text brought me the calm, patience and tranquility that winter gives us.
    thank you very much 🙂

  2. i wish i could change my mind about winter as you have. i have always hated it. and this one had been particularly hard on me because i now have a dog to walk 4x a day….i cant just stay in day after day and ignore it!! but, this article helps me to think of it in a different way so thank you for presenting it to us! i will keep referring to it in the future!! and just maybe i will begin to change my mind!! peace and blessings to you and yours!

  3. I love and admire the honesty of your letter to Winter, Damh. To me, it is a great thing to admit a change of heart & to be able to embrace something that you previously didn’t embrace. I love Winter, probably because I was born in January, I love walking in the wood on a sharp Winter’s day, catching sight of grazing deer in a nearby field & hearing the many different bird calls. I am not so enamoured of very hot Summer’s days, they make me lethargic & irritable. Spring & Autumn to me are times to enjoy renewal & of reaping thoughts & ideas planted earlier. We all have our feelings about the different Seasons & hey, it would be very boring if we were all of the same mind.
    ✌️& Blessings.

  4. Hello Damh, I loved reading your words about Winter. There is a song in those words and you will write the melody. Sometimes it takes profound grief to see the world differently. I’m eagerly awaiting Spring to arrive in the desert. It’s been cold and wet here which isn’t to my liking. One thing I always keep in my mind is that the Wheel of the Year keeps turning with or without my permission. I guess we need a respite from the hot Summer and the beauty of Spring and Autumn. Late Winter blessings to you Damh as you create your new normal on this path called life.

  5. I love the winter. I love the light in winter on a sunny day it has a soft glow on surfaces
    From the side rather than the hot overhead light of summer. I love the structure of trees in winter each tree has a different architecture a different construction. I love the feeling of sitting before a log fire on a frosty night with no moon as all the stars open out. Best of all,I love the sudden realisation that things are moving towards spring with the flowering of white snowdrops that are followed by yellow daffodils and then the blue of bluebells. Watching the magpie pulling bits of twigs of the birch tree to start nest building. I know the light is returning and the warmth once again

  6. When I was young winter was magical. Things like sledding and skating made it easy to ignore the cold. In my adult years shoveling snow and slippery rides to work didn’t seem to create the same magical experience. Thanks to the warmest winter in Southern New England in my memory, I have spent more to time outside enjoying nature and trying to find some of the old winter magic I felt in my youth. The goal is to keep that feeling alive when Winter returns for real next year.

  7. Dear damh a beautiful description of winter but there must have been something in the air this year for as you say I too have realised that winter is not the enemy it is often perceived as I too have rested and recuperated during this year’s winter and have found unexpected pleasure in its slo calmness and even reveled in frosty sunny days despite the bitter cold and maybe because I was looking I was constantly finding signs of the life beneath the sleeping earth and it seems that winter has been far shorter and my usual SAD response has not occured this year I don’t think I will ever be a true winter fan but as a winter born is December birthday in know feel I understand the season better it’s been quite empowering and I have made a decision to connect further with the natural world by beginning My druid studies wishing you warmest bright blessings your friend Ronnie

  8. I’ve never lived where Winter is harsh.. At worst, our Winter has left our too keen, tiniest, plants burnt and unlikely to recover, but mostly Winter offers deepening calm.. Spring is often cruel, and more often creates havoc. Over here Spring brings not gentle beginnings but combustion and terror, while Summer continues with her heat but is less relentless than Spring – Summer gives a little, invites rain, and little plants love the cooler Summers. Autumn arrives to open arms here.. With no blaze of colour to herald her approach, save from a handful of falling yellow or brown leaves of deciduous native tree species, she quietly gentles the days shorter, and welcomes in Night’s darkness .. Plants love Autumn here, her mostly fine, sunny, occasionally wet, mild days, and cooler but still gentle nights literally offering cause to grow and rejoice.. When it’s all been so gentle that Winter’s arrival doesn’t surprise she calls the firewood down from the shed, and stills the planting hands until nearer to Spring (we know that Frost can sneak out and bite babies). Yet Winter is well-loved… Warming fires are a welcome treat rather than a Life-saver, and mild days encourage time in the garden.. Life is good here in our Winter.

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