Winter at home

I looked out my window at the gloomy sky and wall of snow whipping around my cul-de-sac. It was the third blizzard that month, in a winter resembling a bleak Russian novel. I know that’s redundant, but so was that winter.

With my plans that day thwarted, I grabbed my laptop, not quite giving up, but also not not crawling under the covers in the cold dark house.

That was my first winter working from home. And it was brutal.

“I’m dreading Winter,” my friend Jess recently said to me. Flashing back to that day, I knew what she meant.

Winter arrives, whether we’re ready or not.

It’s a feeling as much as a season.

Hoping to outsmart Winter this year, I bought a set of magenta snowshoes in early October. Winter responded with a hilarious snow and ice storm two weeks before Halloween.

I’ll admit, I was tempted to despair. Then I thought back to my sister Sarah, a master home baker, and her annoyed yet wise question, following a North Dakota blizzard no one predicted: “Why don’t they just say, ‘There’s going to be some weather?’ ”

There’s going to be some weather. That’s almost Zen in it’s lack of judgment. Or maybe Norwegian.

Norwegian winters are both cold and dark, but remarkably not bleak. The intrepid and eternally pleasant Norwegians have figured out something important.

Winter isn’t trying to torment us.

They’re so sure of this, they invented koselig, which is a not quite translatable word I mispronounced for three years, until my nephew Giovanni corrected me. (The correct pronunciation is koosh-lee.)

Koselig likely has the same root as the English word cozy. It encompasses simple, rustic comforts, evoking a feeling of warmth and well-being. Think comfy sweaters, warm blankets and fuzzy socks, simple foods and hot drinks, candles and fires, good (if virtual) company. And, yes, including the people we’re living with.

The Danes have a similar word: hygge, which is sort of an urban version of koselig. Hygge is also a Norwegian word and has the same root as hug.

So winter brings both the cold…and hugs?

Huh. That sounds way more romantic than I actually am. We could, however, probably use a few hugs. And romantic or not, we can borrow this sweet tension from the winter experts.

But we’ve become experts too – in being at home.

While the claustrophobia of recent months might tempt us to forget, the phrase “at home” also means “at ease” “in harmony” and “familiar ground.”

Even more mysteriously, earlier this year, I heard a plausible theory that the word home might be related to the ancient Sanskrit word Om. ॐ Om is also an untranslatable word, with the sound and symbol describing Being itself and a deep, abiding inner peace.

No, Winter doesn’t want us to dread its arrival, then settle for bleak. It just needed a little help with translation.

Warmth. Comfort. Ease. Harmony. Hugs. Peace. And, of course, some weather.

That’s winter at home.

Photo: Memories of Winter by Ergyn Meshekran on Unsplash