You’ll grow to love winter, both the seasonal and the emotional, after reading the soothing Wintering by Katherine May. I adored this little book, written by May after a break-down caused by a cocktail of undiagnosed autism, an ill husband and an exhausting job. Leaving her job and the pressures of daily life behind, May retracts from the world and cocoons herself with her young son in almost hibernation. There she finds the peace she’s been desperately craving and learns to love herself – and winter, the most unlovable of seasons.
May looks to the north for how to embrace darkness and the cold. She plunges into volcanic hot springs in Iceland in October, joins a sauna lover in Finland in November and seeks out the Arctic in January. All the while trying to discover how to live happily under the most hostile of conditions. What she finds are people embracing the elements rather than trying to fight them. And with it, ‘a way to ride over the bumps of human life’; to accept that life is not a smooth ride. There’s a lesson in there for May’s own mental health.
May comes across women who for various reasons have been through their own emotional winters and come out on the other side – wiser and happier. She takes up ice bathing and I challenge you not to be inspired by her descriptions of it. She studies animals who hibernate and look at patterns in nature which seem to mirror the idea of intermittent periods of abundance and deprivation.
While this book might not bring any earth-shattering new discoveries, it has calm, comforting quality that will make you want to curl up on the sofa with a warm cup of tea and treasure the dark, rainy October night.
Wintering by Katherine May is published by is published by Rider, 288 pages.