Susan Green. We don't often disagree on books and Wintering is no exception. It's true, not all of us are in a position to be able to retreat and hunker down when times are tough, but it's also true that often that is exactly what we need. I think of all those antique novels where the protagonists are sent away to "rest" in the country (usually at the farmhouse of some elderly former nanny or a distant relative) or to "recover" by the seaside. Long walks, fresh air, plenty of fresh food usually does the trick and our sufferer is back to their old selves.
I liked the descriptions of northerly winters with their snowy landscapes and cosy firesides, though seasons in our hemisphere don't follow that stark course (thank goodness -- I remember my sole Scottish winter when the sky seemed to press on the top of my head like a leaden lid and daylight only lasted about four hours, I couldn't stand it and had to run home to Aussie summer). I liked the account of restorative winter swimming, which is apparently extremely beneficial for both physical and emotional health, and something I heard recommended a couple of years ago by Wim Hof devotees at a mind-body-spirit festival. I'm not brave enough to take the plunge, though I am trying feebly to at least briefly douse myself in cold water under the shower most days.
I even liked that Katherine May ended the book by admitting that she hadn't managed to include everything she'd planned -- she didn't travel as far or interview as many people as she intended. But adjusting our expectations of ourselves is part of "wintering" too, something that many of us experienced during last year's lockdown. (And I'm very aware that having a "good lockdown" is also a highly privileged experience.) But maybe it's time to see that slowing down, just hanging out at home rather than rushing in all directions, finding time for slow activities like cooking and knitting and jigsaws, can be healthy, rather than lazy and self-indulgent. I'm all for wintering.