Halloween is coming, and with it, we’ll truly enter into the dark of winter. It’s always been a hard season for me; I love light and action and warmth, and I’ve struggled for years against the forced stillness of this time of year. For the past few years, however, I’ve begun to unintentionally craft a ritual that will help me transition into stillness.
Every year since I moved to North Carolina, I find myself making a trek to the ocean around late October. Like so many of the magical practices in my life, this one began accidentally; my husband and I like the coast, and we like to travel during off-season rates.
But this fall, as I walked along the mostly-deserted sands, it struck me that what this yearly getaway is really about is marking the passage from light to dark; from warm to cold; from the wild, passionate action of summer to the slow, still days of winter that wait just around the corner.
I slipped my sandals off and wandered into the ocean, feeling the contrast of the icy water and the warm sun on my back. As always happens when I visit the coast, I felt my tension melting away with the sand beneath my feet, and I stood there, letting the cold water wash away my summer self to make room for the winter.
For years, I’ve resisted the changing seasons and the coming cold; I moved to the south to get away from long, bitter winters, and I’ll wear sandals even when it’s snowing, just to cling to the semblance of summer. But this year, I finally feel ready to welcome to the cold with intention. Something about the juxtaposition of spending a weekend at the beach, the very heart of summer time, and wandering along the deserted boardwalk, wrapped in a warm sweater, has helped me release my vice grip on summer and begin to turn my face toward the coming cold. Next year, I will return to the beach again in late October, but before that happens, I’ll visit the ocean again when the cold first gives way to spring. In the meantime, however, it’s time to put away the flip flops and pull out my favorite slippers, instead.
Winter is a time for introspection, for divination, and for rest. I did a little bit of all three on my recent trip to the ocean, and I’m feeling ready for the darkness. I can’t say I’ll welcome it with open arms, but I won’t fight this season the way I have in the past. I’m ready to shiver, to bundle up, and to dream.
How will you let go of the summer and make yourself ready for winter?