At the Library 3/24/22

At the Library
by Laetitia Rhodes-Kaiser

Wintering by British writer Katherine May is part memoir and part nature writing with a dash of personal growth. Through various reflective essays, May explores the coldest and darkest season of the year, but she goes beyond the basic meaning of winter. With winter, she also refers to the most difficult periods of our lives - our personal winters. The author begins this book by stating that “some winters happen in the sun”. 

Our winters often come about suddenly, whether through the onset of illness or the unexpected loss of a loved one. We cannot avoid wintering, May explains, but we can prepare and learn to cope.

“In our relentlessly busy contemporary world,” she writes “we are forever trying to defer the onset of winter.” In our Western culture, we are inclined to resist the idea of rest as a method to heal ourselves. It is often branded as “laziness” or “weakness” when it truly should be seen as an extraordinary act of metamorphosis. When the author herself describes a severe bout of depression she sinks into, she finds unexpected clarity when hitting rock bottom.

Wintering attempts to encourage the reader to take a step back and see winter as the natural part of life’s cycle that it’s always been. The evidence is all around us – all we must do is pay attention. Some winters are inevitably harder than others but if we use our energy wisely, we can overcome the darkest of days.

May’s writing is beautiful, soothing and hopeful. Wintering reminds me of a powerful, slow-acting balm on the troubled soul. A must-read for anyone who’s going through a challenging time.