Monday, February 5, 2018

The Contentment of Mid-Winter Cocooning

It's desolate and chilly outside on this arm-shaped island draped into the Atlantic.  For months on end.

The sky, the ocean, the roadways, the trees, and many houses look abandoned ... and wear the color of slate, bleached or darkened.  We nestle inside, burrowing in for a seemingly endless winter season.

Hours are spent tucked under a faded quilt, stacks of unread books, newspapers, and magazines awaiting my attention.  Devotional times are often leisurely events.  Coloring books and gel pens stay handy.

Blogging is a steady, welcome companion ... writing up a storm has become part of the breath I breathe.  And yes, there's far too much screen time.  Quiet music may play or we revel in the pleasure of an afternoon nap.  The TV drones most evenings.

My uniform of choice day in and out?  Faded sweatshirt atop turtleneck, stretchy, forgiving leggings, fuzzy vests and well-worn slipper socks.

He often escapes to the basement to tinker and design, to think and dream and putter the hours away.  We'll hop in the car at a moment's notice to go exploring, to check out the tides, an abandoned road, a beach previously unnoticed.  Occasionally go out to supper or a movie.  Many evenings, we're surprised if we see one other car on the road.

Yes, we have work we love that is meaningful and productive ... counseling for me, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity for him.  And there are visits and long phone calls with family, gatherings and Bible Studies and get-togethers with new found friends.

As we head into our third year living near the sea's mysterious majesty, together we agree that we share a lingering expectancy for something else, an unknown opportunity, a door or two not yet opened, a missing, illusive piece of the puzzle.

We're no strangers to the waiting room.  God's got the future all in hand.  Especially the unknowns that are a bit scary, uncertain.  That we know for sure.

This is winter at home in early semi-retirement.

Meanwhile, there's the dailyness of tasks and activities that come with homekeeping ... those well-worn rhythms bring a bit of order to my sometimes random days.  Creating, puttering, arranging, tending, and keeping the home fires burning is a role I've always embraced, that's always given a warm sense of purpose, that speaks life and love and welcome.

It's yet another place where I feel His pleasure.

Five little choices I'm making these days ...

~   opening windows  ~ 


Yep, even if it's only 15 degrees out and the wind is blowing mightily.  I open a window wide when I change the linens, clean the bathrooms, or when some heavy-duty cooking threatens to make the house smell like a cheap diner. 

We definitely sleep better at night when a window is cracked just a bit, balancing out the cozy flannel sheets, electric blanket, and ever present quilt.  And sometimes we may even get to hear a lone bird chirping a solitary winter song ... or sadly, a pack of coyotes howling as they chase their prey through the moonlit woods.


~   letting lights twinkle everywhere   ~


Lights burn bright on window sills, at the doorways.  Tiny ones twinkle 'round the mantel's collections.  Candles are lit on the farmhouse table, on Grandma's old trunk in the living room, and upstairs in the loft right next to my seat of choice.

They create wisps of romantic mystery.  Their ambiance chases away the darkness and illuminates shadowy corners.  And their warm glow speaks welcome to the neighbors, letting them know that we are here.


~   surrounding ourselves with quilts & throws   ~


Quilts recovered from his mom's old cedar chest, hand knit throws set free from my childhood maple dresser, a fuzzy lambs wool throw covering the threadbare rocker, an old baby blanket at the ready.  On beds, sofas, chairs, and walls ... upstairs, downstairs, over at the counseling office.

These favorite warmers travel with ease around our home.  The quilt in the open window snapshot had just emerged from the washer and dryer after its annual stint as a Christmas tree skirt.  It's also made appearances as a tablecloth {when we weren't dining}, and found a home tossed over sofas and chairs.  Tattered and worn these days, that $39 tag sale vintage baby's been a real good friend.


~   always having a mug or glass in hand   ~ 


I do love a big mug of tea early morning and some mulled cider with a cinnamon stick on some afternoons.  And don't even get me going on hot chocolate in the evening with a whole lot of whipped cream.

But just like summertime, it's the tall icy glasses of water that keep me feeling healthy and alert, cleansed and full ... and much less likely to launch into some random out-of-control eating binge.


~   puttering in the kitchen when absolutely necessary   ~ 


I'll be the first to admit that the kitchen is not my favorite room in the house, that more often than not, I'm standing mid-afternoon gazing into the freezer wondering what's for dinner.

But I love making soup.

The holiday turkey carcass covered with broth and veggies, steaming away in a huge pot.  Chicken soup pulled together from assorted frozen leftovers now bubbling away ... with couscous or tiny pasta added during the final minutes.

Fragrant ham and bean soup, simmering goodness from that big ol' bulky bone.  And the always forgiving hamburger vegetable soup that tastes even better when you replace and substitute and make do with ingredients not printed on the recipe card.

And anything baked calls my name.

Blueberry scones and Mom's biscuits and brownies.  A fabulous pie or chocolate cupcakes.  You know what I'm talking about.

The key is to make plenty to share with awaiting family members or friends needing a bit of a pick-me-up so that you don't get greedy and eat far too much and end up bummed when you stand on the scale the next morning.

*

How do you cocoon in the bleak mid-winter?  Do tell!




*

sharing warm times with 

*


46 comments:

  1. I do always love what feels like a little visit to your place way up along the coast, Linda! But I cannot imagine opening the window even a crack when you live in such a cold and windy climate! Yikes! Thanks for warming all of us with your words, my friend! Have a wonderful week!

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    1. I'm fighting a wicked cold so maybe my brilliant open window philosophy needs to go out the window.

      So to speak ...

      ;-}

      Delete
  2. A hot cup of coffee in the morning, a cozy bathrobe, a cup of tea on chilly afternoons, and hot, savory soup - those are all winter favorites for me, Linda. And I absolutely love that quilt! We do have some throws to snuggle with, but I so wish a quilt was part of the deal.
    Blessings and stay warm!

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    1. Maybe you'll find one at a little flea market or garage sale ... ya' never know where one will turn up.

      ;-}

      Stay cozy, friend ...

      Delete
  3. Lovely post and pictures, Linda.

    No cocooning for me; the dogs have to be cared for, and whatever the time or the weather I need to be ready to go outside, in addition to being outside a lot anyway. Also, my workbench is on the porch, so whether metal freezes to my skin or burns me from the summer sun, if I want to get something done, there it is.

    It's OK. The pain of illness has made life so viciously primal that any kind of gracious living would seem a mockery.

    https://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2018/02/your-dying-spouse-442-from-barbara-fmf.html

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    1. Well, no matter what the weather, it's good to see you out and about, man. Your wife did a great job filling in for you last week, but it wasn't quite the same.

      Hang on, hang in ... I hope you find this week a better one.

      Bless you.

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  4. Marilyn (Little Sister)February 5, 2018 at 12:34 PM

    I love this post and it describes your home and life perfectly. I love the pictures! Your question was how do I cocoon in the mid-bleak winter? The answer is "I don't." I haven't opened a window since October, nor do I intend to! I have throws on the back of two chairs, but only used one once this winter during a blizzard when I couldn't leave the house. I put the throw around me, set a timer for 15 minutes and took a nap! That was it for cocooning. What I love to do in winter is open the back door late at night after a snow storm, feel the cool, crisp air, see the icicles hanging on the house, see the trees coated in ice, then close the door and go to bed. My life seems to continue regardless of the season, most days are the same and unfortunately I don't take the time to enjoy or savor the changes that the seasons bring. Life is too busy, but the day will come, when I am semi-retired, living on the Cape near you, enjoying quiet days, both of us drinking tea and admiring God's handiwork in the world around us. Hope it will be soon!

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    1. Sounds like that blast of cold air does a splendid job of sending you off to sleep. Must be the gene pool!

      I'm looking forward to that upcoming season. Can't wait to have you around, to make each other crazy, to do life together in this place we call home.

      xo

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  5. This just makes me want to come and visit! I'm not sure I've been cocooning, but I have been doing quite a bit of soup-making and baking recently! Hoping to catch up with the book discussion soon- I finally managed to read chapter 2 this morning but need a little time to process before I comment- I like it though!

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    1. Wish you could bring along some of those baked goods from across the Atlantic when you come to process the book, Lesley! Looking forward to your weighing in with us ...

      It's been a terrific conversation.

      Delete
  6. Lights are what I miss the most about Christmas decorations, yet I've been afraid that leaving a few would just look like I can't let Christmas go or have been too lazy to take them down, ha! But those little candles might be a good idea. I can't do wax candles because most artificially scented things give me a headache, but those little battery-operated ones would do nicely.

    We have throw blankets on every seat in the family room, and in a few places in other rooms as well. So cozy. I love quilts! We don't have any family ones to hand down, but my bedspread of choice has usually been a quilt.

    I love soups, too, and oven meals that take an hour or so, that I don't dare make in the summer when the AC can't keep up with the oven being on.

    I also like to keep some cut flowers around. My son and d-i-l bring them pretty frequently. One of the hard things for me about winter is that lack of color and growing things outside. I am not good with houseplants, but a few cut flowers from the grocery store tossed in a vase helps.

    I wrote a post a few years ago called "Help for the Winter Blues" (https://barbarah.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/help-for-the-winter-blues/).

    Thanks for this cozy post. :-)

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    1. Hi Barbara - I loved your list of ideas and motivations. This seems to be a season where motivation can so easily seem to be lacking.

      And yes, please to something fresh-cut and fragrant. I spied some beautiful cut tulips a few weeks ago but they were just too $. Time to bring in more fresh greens ... I love that pine smell!

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  7. I agree and recognise most of the experiences you describe when it is cold outside and it's better to stay indoors at home. One thing we also do, which you did not mention, is move all the furniture around - just for something to do and as an indoor exercise. The sofa is now wedged in the bathroom and we cannot get the electric oven out of the cupboard. Any ideas?

    God bless.

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    1. Oh, one of my favorite things to do in our first little house was move furniture almost every week, Victor! The floors were carpeted, the furniture slid easy, and my back was strong.

      My husband, however, never thought it was all that amusing. Especially in the middle of the night when he'd walk into something unexpected and large and he'd almost break his foot.

      Ah ... those were the days.

      ;-}

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  8. I cocoon with warm fuzzy afghans, candles, copious cups of hot drinks. And soup. Lots and lots of soup.

    I love this time of year!

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  9. I don't cocoon since I have to be busy but when I do come home...if not spending the time with Jo watching NCIS or MacGyver I do jigsaw puzzles, ride my bike on the trainer or I read.

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    1. I gotta dig the jigsaw puzzles out. Absolutely.

      Love having one going on the side ...

      Thanks for the prompt, Bill!

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  10. Living in southern California is not nearly as cold as where you live but we have had some cold desert nights that require an electric blanket since we too like to sleep in a cool room. We spend two weeks near San Francisco which was rainy and cold, thankful for warm socks, and lots of good reading material. All our meetings were for breakfast and lunch which we did on purpose so we did not have to deal with the heavy traffic after a dinner meal. The sun only came out for a few hours in those two weeks. I drank lots of tea, and made soups which I love to do. In fact, on the stove right now is my ground turkey and bean soup since we are working on losing some Christmas pounds that want to stick to us. We are not retired but it feels like it at times because of the time between meetings with missionaries. Neither of us are ready for retirement, but it will come probably sooner than we want just due to health and age. Blessings.

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    1. Betty, I'm with you ... let's hear it for morning meetings, when our brains are rested and fresh!

      I'm guessing that God will send you profitable encounters even after the big 'R.' My husband's found that to be true ...

      God's never done with us, is He!

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  11. Ah, my friend, that is my way of living and savoring the quiet winter days and nights. (My Christmas tree is still up in the family room and the mantle there is still decorated. Why? It simply pleases me and warms my heart!!) Had a yummy walnut orange scone tea to sip today while writing. Morning started with old-fashioned oatmeal with mashed carmelized bananas mixed in and topped with roasted walnuts and blueberries. We have had a few days I could walk outside, but those are rare. Hugs!

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    1. That's it! I'm coming to your house for breakfast. Or brunch. Or lunch. Sounds like you're an outstanding cook, friend!

      And I love that your Christmas stuff is still up and glowing. I've always thought we're in too big a hurry to undecorate and get back to 'normal.'

      Our window lights stay up 'til March these days. I wouldn't have it any other way.

      ;-}

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  12. You painted a beautiful picture of my favorite "mood" to read and Bible study in! Drab days, with cozy creature comforts... its like balm to the soul!! - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

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    1. For sure, Gingi ... on these kind of cozy days I tend to sit longer with my Bible, tend to reflect more on God and His Word, tend to be less in a hurry to run hither and yon doing things that don't matter all that much.

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  13. Winter in New England...it's coziness almost makes up for it's length.

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    1. Wow, this is wisdom -->'its coziness almost makes up for its length.'

      Thanks for educating this NE newbie! It's been hard for us to fathom the way winter tends to drag on.

      Let's hear it for coziness!

      ;-}

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  14. Although I don’t interact with them, I enjoy getting your blogs. I love the book recommendations especially. Some I have bought, others are on my wish list.

    {via email}

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    1. That makes me all kinds of happy to know you're out there and are finding something good to grab hold of.

      Thanks for letting me know! You've made my day.

      Delete
  15. What a beautiful post. You are living the life!
    Blessings!

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    1. The best gifts are the people in our lives and those simple daily graces that He allows to come our way ...

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  16. Linda, I love this post and all the images you share. It sounds like winter in your house is just as it should be. With cozy places to relax, refresh, and enjoy. With two teen boys, my life doesn't slow down much, even in winter. January was my relaxing month. I enjoyed having time to breathe, move at a slower pace. On days when I'm home, I love candles burning. With homey scents, like cinnamon or spice, or something like that. when it's snowing (and we've had far too little this winter!), I love a hot cup of tea (or coffee) beside me. I love to watch the snow fall as I write. And movie nights. Either with my Hubs or our family...cuddled under blankets while watching the Avengers, or the Hobbit, or some other boy-themed, action-packed flick. :)

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    1. I hear what you're saying, Jeanne ... I remember those years with two teens in the house ... there were few dull, quiet moments.

      I love that idea of movie nights. What a cool way to connect with our kiddos, no matter what their ages!

      ;-}

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  17. Your words, photos, and winter cocoon are so cozy, Linda. My hubby calls my blankie a "cocoon." I always cuddle into a blanket when I'm sitting in my recliner, whether visiting, reading, or watching TV. A heavier one my daughter made for me in the winter and a lighter, smaller one in the summer. I really should keep one in my office, too. :) I have my coffee in the morning in my "cocoon." Otherwise, it's tea and sometimes hot chocolate. And like you, I always keep water beside me, though I have stopped using ice. Your soups sound so good. I guess I like soup every time of the year. :) Thank you for warming my heart today! I so look forward to spring and warmer temps. Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Yep, everyone needs a blanket or two. I'm forever burrowing, snuggling, cocooning.

      And 'yes' to having a few available in the office. My clients are currently enjoying a quilt with embroidered birds from all 50 states!

      Cozying up makes conversations easier, don't you think?

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  18. There is such a coziness to your words. I understand the well-worn sweatshirts, leggings and slipper socks. My usual attire for sure. I have a favorite fuzzy throw that is my constant companion on these winter days.

    I honestly love staying home and doing things slowly. It is refreshing and renewing. Of course, I have other commitments too but find winter makes me into a homebody. Thank you for sharing your warmth with us today!

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    1. There's a special place in my heart for well-worn sweatshirts. I don't know what it is ... they're like a second skin or something.

      One of my daughter's is prone to wear the same. Maybe it's in the gene pool?!

      Enjoy those homebody moments, friend. Before we know it, spring will be here and we'll be out and about once again ...

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  19. My aunt always slept with the window open a crack. The one time I had to share a room with her I caught a cold! I do hope you're feeling better, sweet friend! Your soups sound perfect for taking the chill out of a winter's eve. You can bake for me anytime and cocoa, yes, please! Can one really ever have enough quilts and throws? I think not! Cocooning with you while we wait. Don't worry, friend, Spring will come :) I promise!

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    1. I'm re-thinking that open window at night thing. Just a bit ...

      Stay warm, stay healthy, and keep snapping those wonderful pictures of God's creation, friend! They give us hope that new life will once again spring up ...

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  20. I feel so cozy just reading your words here LInda. The recipe chest you have is gorgeous! I have to try not too cocoon too much as our winters are long! So I'll find myself in year around greenhouses to keep my spirits up!

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    1. Wow, greenhouses! Lynn, you've awakened something dormant inside. My antenna's gone up and I'm going to be on the lookout.

      It might be like a needle in a haystack, but I'll be looking out anyway.

      Thanks for this inspiration!

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  21. What a beautiful picture of retirement, this makes me look forward to it, Linda! I praise God for you! I love your list of 5 things. We've recently started opening windows too. Our building keeps the central heat hiked up to summer sweat degrees Fahrenheit! And we've discovered we sleep better with a window cracked. (My son just got a student job with Habitat. I was so proud of him. He used networking to get the job! Had his roommate who'd worked for them before write a letter first.)

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    1. Besty - How cool that your son has tapped into Habitat! We're so excited about their work ... oh so needed.

      My husband's met some of the best people as he's worked alongside future homeowners, volunteers, contractors. I can't sing Habitat's praises loud enough!

      I'd love to hear how your son does along the way ... if you'd like.

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  22. You made me feel warm and cozy! This year, the south has been much colder and winter felt much longer than normal. But yesterday was 64 degrees! I am just trying to stay warm with blankets and a fire while I read a book. Cocooning is very relaxing for a short amount of time for me!

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    1. 64 degrees!!!

      Oh yes, yes, please!

      'Til then, I grab every semi-warm sunny day I can and get outside somewhere somehow.

      ;-}

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  23. I can't think of a more opposite winter from ours. A cool front means the temps will be below 60 and we're already having 12 hours of sun up to sun down. I do love the word pictures you create of your piece of land. I also look forward to the time approaching where we'll be in a little less congested place, closer to some "off-roads" and closer to our daughter and family than we are to our office today. These things keep me warm even when the cold wind blows. And it has a little more often this winter :)

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    1. Oh yes, Debby, I hear you. I so wish we lived closer to our girls. The grandkids.

      Oh yes.

      Maybe someday? I love that you're in the dreaming phase, the planning phase, the anticipation. Thank you for giving peeks into your future through your writing, friend ...

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