I wish I were a hedgehog!


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As I get out of bed, look out of the window and see another dark, cold and wet morning, I feel like going back under the warm duvet and curl up for more sleep. But the hens are calling to be let out of their coop and my day on the smallholding must begin… there are chores to be done, log baskets to be filled, kindling to be fetched and woodburners to light for a start. A hundred and one other things too, or so it seems when my motivation and energy levels are as low and weak as the sunlight this side of the Winter Solstice.

I am very aware that my body and my mind are in full hibernation mode at the moment and I seek comfort. I am also aware that I need to generate enough energy to bring myself that comfort, to nourish and resource myself or I shall be in trouble. Self-care, both physical and emotional, is vital at this time of year, when the light levels are low, days are short and nights are long, yet the day-to-day demands on us are not diminished. It’s the beginning of December and nature calls us to wind down, tie loose ends and wrap up the year. Apart from the evergreens, most trees have now shed their leaves; they’ve let go of the demands for growth and retreated to a dormant period of rest, conserving their life force down in their roots until Spring when the new growth cycle will begin again. Hibernating creatures in the wild have built their nests and burrowed down for their Winter-long sleep.

I must admit to being a little envious. I wish I was a hedgehog, or a rabbit, tucked up in a cosy underground shelter for the next few weeks! The urge to hibernate away from the bleak and dreary pre-Midwinter days and snuggle down in a warm, cosy nest with a good book is strong! Not quite managing to give in to it fully (a strong Inner Critic prevents me from doing that – my inner conversations with that part of me are amusing at the moment!!), I make do with little touches of comfort and joy throughout the day: the warm glow of logs in the woodburners, the lovely scent of a Christmas candle filling the house with my favourite aroma of blended mandarin, clove and cinnamon, crafts projects to meet my needs for creativity, entertaining glimpses of a little robin darting about in the garden in search of a worm or two, baking, cooking and eating hearty soups and casseroles to give my body the nourishment it needs, gather with family and friends, an enjoyable read...

To be in tune with the natural environment around us brings about a certain peace and harmony that makes the hard days of darkness less stressful, more manageable, even bearable. We are not separate from the natural world and, as such, we cannot help but be influenced by what is happening in it. Aligning ourselves with Winter’s low energy, taking good care of ourselves by noticing our mood and our needs, pacing ourselves and responding accordingly, can help us stay well now that the sunshine-filled, boosting days of Summer are long gone.

As I journey wearily through the last vestiges of the dark season, I find comfort in the last line of a poem called Loss and Gain, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, that someone shared on Twitter this morning and which deeply resonate with me: “The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide”. This line nudges me to trust in the return of the light and reminds me that the sun will shine again with all its strength, for nothing stays the same for ever. Troubled times do end, pain eases, sorrow passes, sadness gives way to joy. Maybe these words, very evocative of the mood at this dark time of the year, will bring comfort to you too?