This might sound a little weird, but I really like this kind of cold November weather. Last year in Ireland I remember November and December being strangely, inappropriately mild – actually warm at times, but damp and gloomy throughout. I absolutely hated it – I kept waiting for Winter to start, with the crisp, cold and clear mornings shrouded in fog, the frost glazing the grass, that I remembered from when I was younger, and it never did. Lately Irish weather has become, if it were possible, even more volatile than I remember it being before. Instead of cold winter weather, there are sporadic rain and storms from November to March, it’s always muggy and damp and there is almost zero chance of snow. Warm weather in wintertime makes me feel stressed out because it drives home to me every day the realities of climate change, which is so stressful because no matter what I do, nothing I can do as an individual will ever be enough.
I won’t go on about that. Such things make me sad. Instead I focus on trying to just do what I can do, and enjoy the proper winter weather when it comes.
That said, I have to say that I do not particularly enjoy it when I have to go out walking on days like today, when the rain falls, the wind blows and it’s freezing cold. I get a bit extra cold because my flat, although it’s quite cosy in the morning and evening when the heating comes on, is in an old red-brick house with windows thin as paper (although I do love it, wouldn’t change it for an ugly concrete block thing for anything,) plus, it faces north, and light is blocked by a tall row of houses opposite.
So I have to make sure to stay warm. And although this is the obvious, silly-style advice that a granny might give me, “Stay warm now!” for me, I find that it takes a little bit of effort and I’ve got better at doing it since I moved here.
It’s more than staying physically warm – it is also about keeping cosy and creating a sense of Warmth in myself, warmth in the sense of wellbeing, being well cared-for, that keeps me most happy and able to focus and enjoy myself. So here is a little list of things that help to do that, and the foods that warm us from the inside.
Five Ways to Keep Warm
Obviously if you can, it’s nice to keep your house warm by heating it all the time, but I wouldn’t do that even if I could or if my concern for the planet didn’t keep me from burning oil – I think it’s quite healthy to experience a bit of cold – I kind of enjoy it as I’ve said above, so instead I’ve been doing the following.
- Enjoy Constant Hot Drinks – when I’m at home I live from one cup of tea or hot water and lemon to the next. The BEST thing I did lately was to buy a KeepCup so I can carry my tea along with me when I go out walking. Makes leaving the house so much easier.
- Eat A LOT. Your body burns energy to keep yourself heated, and that’s energy I can’t afford to lose. So See below!
- Light Many Candles. I’d love to light a real fire but I cannot – so I light a lot of candles in the fireplace and make an illusion. Candles make the place look and even feel a bit warmer and also they are simply lovely.
- Exercise your muscles – warm up by doing a few jumping jacks, or push-ups; swimming is especially good. This is something I have to start doing more – I really want to love swimming, but at the moment I find it too awkward and annoying to do often.
- Seriously now, Jumpers. Find a few really good, warm jumpers that you love, and wear them. A good tip is to go to charity shops and have a look in the men’s sections – they have the best oversized woolen jumpers, usually much better than the women’s ones, in my opinion.
Five Foods for Cold Weather
I’m deciding this year to try and just go with the food the seasons are providing. It works remarkably well – it turns out that the foods that are most abundant around now are exactly those my body craves.
- Porridge, sweet and savoury. My “sweet” porridge isn’t actually all that sweet, as I prefer it plainer. My best sweet porridge is with kefir and grilled figs above – I might put a recipe for it in a couple of days.
- Root vegetables roasted. The land gives us the food we need. There’s a reason we have so much root vegetables with all their marvellous starch harvested at this time.My favourite current snack is roast parsnips with hummus.
- Bread, with nut butter, hummus, and often soup. This list is veeery carb-heavy I know – these are the foods that make me feel best this time of year, keeping my belly full with warm things and giving me energy to keep myself warm.
- Apple pie, apple crumble and stewed fruit. I usually have apples with some kind of oats, whether in a crumble or a granola or something. I like cooking apples best, because they are so deliciously tart. I might eat them uncooked (I know, rather weird) or simply baked or stewed.
- Fermented foods, especially sauerkraut and kefir. Brilliant for keeping the immune system functioning well, plus, they are so nice and salty, which is something that I also crave a lot at the moment. I adore Green Kitchen Stories’ Golden Sauerkraut.
What do you think? Feel free to comment with your own thoughts on The Weather (an endlessly fascinating subject to me) and how to keep warm.