If you are sitting in shorts or a t-shirt and reading this, this might be hard to understand. I am buried under clothes, am wearing two pairs of socks, a ridiculous cap and my breath fogs when I breathe. I write this, to get the subject out of the way.
For those of us living in the winter zones, the sliding temperature is dominating every conversation. And for good reason. Humans were not made to live in cold climates. Our cousins, the other apes, are found in the tropics. But we were more adventurous back then, and migrated from hot Africa to the colder parts of the globe, and somehow also managed to survive. Human ingenuity combined with cultural adaptions ensured that we now live almost everywhere. But every morning as I drag myself out of bed, I ask myself – why!
Winter IV, Lithuanian Painter Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis
It is a hopelessly foggy morning. A blank sea of white beyond my window. There is no sun. We hope it will make an appearance later in the day so we can wash our clothes, stretch our legs and see the trees. The radiant sun sends us secret signals. Our bodies respond to the bright rays, and accordingly adjust and synchronise. The ancient circadian rhythm is dictated by the sun. And it is not limited to getting out of bed. Light changes everything. Mood, feelings, behaviour, movement, all is impacted. For example, there is enough research that shows we tend to eat more, move less and mate more in cold weather. So, without any guilt, blame the sun (or lack of it) for all indulgences. Meanwhile I am just trying to fold my toes and get warm.
Scientifically the most effective silhouette to keep heat in, is the sphere. Which is why tiny kittens curl up into tinier balls of fur, and we demurely pull our legs in and cross our arms. Curling up like cats is not always feasible. And having a warm person to cuddle is perhaps more effective, and certainly more desirable.
Black Circle, Russian Artist Kazimir Malevich
Winter is the cosy season. Of cradling hot cups of tea, bright woollen socks, of imagining fireplaces in storybooks, and having a real person beside us. We need the warmth of another being for emotional, physiological, fundamental and all kinds of complicated reasons. It goes back to when and how our mothers held us as babies. Physical warmth and emotional warmth are closely intertwined. Which is why perhaps too many babies are born between August and September.
When the nights are the longest, it is nice to have someone to hold. Which makes me think – Is it easier to be single in summer?