Winter blues? Farmer Tara recommends a little friluftsliv!
January. It’s probably the toughest month for me. The cozy warmth of the holidays gives way to ever colder temperatures and grey skies. The pressure to make resolutions and set big goals that I want to achieve for the year can be overwhelming at times. Feeling almost forced to reflect on the past year and all of the feelings that arrive with that kind of introspection, especially after a year like 2020, always brings with it a touch of anxiety.
I learned a little late in life that being outdoors in the winter was the anecdote to the winter blues I would inevitably experience in January and February. I get cold easily (I can usually be seen with a stocking cap on 8 months of the year), so I was always reluctant to spend a lot of time out in the Indiana winters when being warm and snuggled in blankets was clearly preferable in my mind. But I still need activity and to connect with nature, whether it’s via hiking or simply walking and watching the birds flutter and tweet as they seem to make the most of the winter months.
What is friluftsliv?
Norway has a word and cultural keystone called friluftsliv, which means “open air life.” It’s a celebrated tradition to dress for the weather — from woolen socks and leggings to mittens, scarves and caps — and get outside. The crispness in the air, the muted colors, and the landscape when covered in frost or snow creates a calm canvas that allows me to get into the right headspace to reflect on the past and get energized for the year ahead.
These days, I have an added incentive to get outside. It’s my job, and it requires being outdoors. A lot. Helping care for all the living things at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC) that bravely face the cold weather; The plants and chickens that provide delicious food (greens, root crops, and eggs) for our community along with the alpacas that provide warmth and coziness with fiber goods (not to mention the joy they provide because of their adorable faces).
Although I’ve been involved with WVC for a few years now, this winter it is offering something new — an outdoor tour! It’s an amazing opportunity to share the friluftsliv experience with families. A tour at WVC feels especially important during the global pandemic, which can be so isolating at times.
The tour has brought me more peace and comfort then I would have imagined. Knowing that I am giving families opportunities to be together creating memories outside on the farm, with our alpacas and chickens, and having that shared experience with them has been a highlight, and what I am looking forward to enhancing in the year ahead.