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Celebrate the Seasons. Even Winter!


Yesterday, March 14,  we got the first real snow of the season, much later than I have ever experienced in my 26 years in the US. While it concerns me that we have not had much snow this winter, I was thankful for the snowflakes I was watching as they fell from the sky, adding a few more inches to the ones we had through the night. Being open to welcome winter and snow does not come naturally to me. Like many, I associate winter with coldness, dark days, depression, weight gain, and shorter days – none of the things we like. I remember my first encounter with snow as if it were yesterday. That was in 1991, in Bloomington, Indiana. I had learned a few things about the US in high school and college. However, just as no one can truly prepare you for the experience of giving birth to a child, no one can prepare you for the real winter, the one you get especially in the US Midwestern states.

Yesterday, March 14,  we got the first real snow of the season, much later than I have ever experienced in my 26 years in the US. While it concerns me that we have not had much snow this winter, I was thankful for the snowflakes I was watching as they fell from the sky, adding a few more inches to the ones we had through the night. Being open to welcome winter and snow does not come naturally to me. Like many, I associate winter with coldness, dark days, depression, weight gain, and shorter days – none of the things we like. I remember my first encounter with snow as if it were yesterday. That was in 1991, in Bloomington, Indiana. I had learned a few things about the US in high school and college. However, just as no one can truly prepare you for the experience of giving birth to a child, no one can prepare you for the real winter, the one you get especially in the US Midwestern states.


I had one interesting experience with it on my first day in the country. In an attempt to be kind and welcoming, my American housemates decided to introduce me to some of the things that can make winter a fun time: throwing snowballs! Since I dared to step outside, they thought I would be willing to give it a try. One of them threw a snowball at me. I rushed back inside and she got the point! I watched them through the windows wondering how in the world anyone could enjoy playing with freezing cold, wet snowballs! It lasted a few minutes, but it left a lasting impression on me. Of all that I had previously learned about the US, from literature to geography, to the automobile industry and sports – especially basketball – weather patterns were never on the agenda. As someone born and raised in a tropical climate, and who was familiar with the distinctions between rainy and dry seasons only, winter was not meant to be a part of the equation. When I eventually learned how to dress appropriately for the cold weather, I was able to better cope with it.


It took me longer to appreciate winter, however. It happened when, much later on, once I became more aware of the interconnectedness between us and the world around us. Of particular interest to me and of relevance to all of us, is the relationship between seasonal changes and food availability. And this is not just about any food, but whole unprocessed foods, the foods that come naturally from fertile soils. In fact, I have come to attach so much value to food that I now spend more time learning about and working with food than any other activity I engage in during my waking hours. I am one of those who believe, as Hippocrates once said, that food is medicine and that in fact, food is one of the most potent drugs we take every day. I am talking about the foods whose colors and flavors speak for themselves without the need for intruders such as artificial colors and flavors to disguise their true nature. The right foods can bring relief and/or healing. The wrong foods trigger discomfort and/or disease.


And this is also why I have come to appreciate seasonal changes. With winter comes snow, naturally pure and pleasing as it spreads, like yesterday, from our doorsteps into the horizon of covered ground. With snow comes natural irrigation to prevent our farms from getting too dry, thus allowing us to grow foods that we all enjoy throughout the year.   Our ability to nurture the land during winter months can determine the quality of foods we harvest during the rest of the year. I don’t believe that growing food all year round on the same soil, without giving it a break, is good practice even with added fertilizers (unless you truly know something I don’t). Just as I believe in the importance of taking time off to renew and rejuvenate our body, mind and soul, I believe that we should treat our farms the same way.


I have stopped viewing winter as a time that threatens my wellness and comfort. Winter has become a time when I know that something good is happening. It is a time when the farms can recover from all the hard labor and requirements we put them through, to produce food during the other seasons. Without winter, we cannot experience the fullness of Spring, the season that allows new sprouts to turn into plants that later express their beauty through the many colorful flowers around our homes and neighborhoods.


With snow also comes more water for our rivers and lakes, some of which supply us with the water that runs through the pipes in our homes – something we should not take for granted. With Winter comes discomfort, cold, and even a few extra and unwanted pounds often in the wrong places, such as around the belly. But being able to enjoy and appreciate the other seasons, along with what they bring, is what makes winter so special.

And it works the same way in our lives. The winter of our lives can be a time of struggles and challenges, a time when growth is slow, if at all. But it can also be a time when we must let go of what is holding us back, so that we can experience new and refreshing opportunities. This winter of our lives can serve as a time of reflection and planning for the actions we must take to welcome new, healthier and happier selves. And just as real winter forces us to spend less time outside and to stop growing food – for the most part – we must be willing to give up something in order for us to overcome the challenges that come with the season we are in. How badly and how ready we are to welcome this new reality will determine how hard we are willing to work to make it ours?


And while we may not enjoy the process at first, we will get used to it and learn and lesson or two that make it worth the effort. I still do not consider playing snowballs one of my favorite winter hobbies, but I no longer dread it! I enjoy watching a dad across the street throw snowballs at his son or daughter or build a BIG snowman with a red nose and a hat. And through the years, I have come to accept winter as a season I value, just as I do Spring, Summer and Fall. It has become a time of metamorphosis, a time when the things that die are transformed back into their raw beauty – as new life and new opportunities become ours!


To Your Health and Wellness,


Rose Kadende-Kaiser, Ph.D.

Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Behavior Change Trainer

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