The harvest is in, our wood is split and dry, and the strawberries are all mulched in for the long winter to come.
The signs are strong for a big winter this year and it’s about time! Snow plays such a crucial role in the environment up here in Vermont, as does the extended cold. Snow’s insulating blanket serves to protect many plants and animals, its stored water provides the abundant moisture plants need in the spring to break dormancy, and the minerals provide much needed nutrients. The persistent cold triggers plants to pause growth and produce seed for the growing season to come.
Winter is also a time of rest—for everyone. From now till the middle of February animals are very still, the birds don’t sing, and the plants stop growing and seal themselves up to protect from moisture loss. Meanwhile, we find ourselves moving a bit slower, needing more rest and deep nourishment. It is a healing time and one of introspection—turning inwards.
Have you ever noticed how some books that seemed to just put you to sleep in the summertime with their density and complexity are gripping at this time of year? That’s just one example of how the seasons affect us.
Eating regionally and seasonally goes beyond the act of eating what is available—there is a deep logic and benefit behind it. The foods available at this time of year specifically provide the kind of deep nutrition that our bodies need to fuel the high energy demands of introspection. Root crops are rich in minerals from healthy soil, and cheeses and yogurts are dense in probiotic, biome-enriching elements that keep us healthy and our digestion powerful. Bone broths and slow cooked soups and stews warm us and recharge our bodies with minerals and vitamins that often stay locked up in the fresh or lightly cooked foods we love in the warmer months. Think of winter eating as bringing the sun’s fire within to make up for the waning sunshine and warmth of the summer season. These foods have been storing that warmth and radiance for us and now, your slow cooking unlocks this quality.
Eating seasonally is how I embrace the seasons, acknowledge and accept the shifting light and energy, and dive deep into the introspective nature of winter. I quietly make my plans for spring and summer, just as nature is doing—all comfortable in dreamy hibernation.