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When I as a child in Michigan, I loved the snow.  

Growing up in 1960s, without the benefit of game consoles or computers or cable TV, we found everything we needed in our own imaginations and the vivid, brilliant magic of the natural world.  

We accepted that world however it came - donning slickers for the rain and layers of wool and nylon for the snow.  In winter we built snow forts and snowmen and skated on frozen ponds until the early darkness fell.  We were not impervious to weather but we possessed a hardiness that I no longer own.  

At 57, I find that I have a mixed response to winter.  I do love the first snowfall but the second and third and fourth days of that snowfall don't always excite me.  My skiing days are behind me.  I don't care for shoveling or for icy roads.  There are days when I find our Northeast PA weather challenging and enjoy the cozy comfort of my home.

To degree this attitude is understandable.  In winter our homes become our refuge in the northern climates.  They protect us from the cold and the wind and the bone-chilling dampness of ice and snow.  But this is not entirely good.  The energy of our interior space isn't continual replenished by the elements - as is the atmosphere outside.  

Behind our closed doors and windows the air is still and dry and the earth outside is often covered. Our connection to the elements and the important energies they provide is tenuous at best.  And, to varying degrees, we all need these energies.  

For some of us our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being depends upon our relationship to the natural world and the resonant energy it supplies.  I am one of those people, and I do my best to connect with the elements at this time of year in two important ways. 

The first is to bring the elements inside and into our awareness.  Suggestions on doing that can be found below.  Keep in mind that these are ideas I am developing and working with right now and I will updating you on my progress through the coming weeks!

Air  We can invite the element of air by cracking the windows when we clean - if only for a few minutes - at least once a day.  Because air is an element of motion, it enjoys a clear path.  This can be provided by keeping our inner space clean and organized throughout the winter months.

When we are done cleaning, we can honor the element of air by burning incense and taking a moment to appreciate the movement of this element's revitalizing current.  We may also choose to feed the creatures of the air by keeping our bird feeders stocked.

Water  We can get in touch with the element of water in several different ways.  Long winter baths work well, as does drinking plenty of clear, fresh water.  Most of us tend to drink less water in the winter and this is just as detrimental now as it is in the summer.

We might also consider introducing a water element into our interior space.  I am considering a small aquarium but will probably settle for a simple bowl of water filled with colored stones and floating candles.  We might also make an effort to keep the birdbath free of ice as much as possible so that the birds can take a drink when the weather is dry.

Earth  Earth can be brought into our homes directly in form of potted plants which have the added advantage of radiating the living energy of growth.  If you have an herb garden, as I do, consider bringing some of the plants indoor for the winter.  I didn't act fast enough this year to bring in my parsley, oregano, thyme and mint but I did save the rosemary and have two beautiful plants wintering in my kitchen.  Next year I'll have space for the rest!

Additionally, we can remember the creatures of the earth by leaving food outside for the squirrels, rabbits, stray cats and other animals struggling in the cold.

Fire  Last, but never least! In this season of increasing darkness fire and light are essential for our well-being.  And, surprisingly despite our cold weather dependency upon the element of fire, it is increasingly taken for granted.

Thanks to electricity, we have light whenever we want it.  Through the ready abundance of fuel, most of us are warm from the beginning of the season to the end.  We might not give the element of fire a lot of thought - at least not until we get our our heating bill - but it does come at a price (to both our pocketbooks and our planet).  This price must be paid, however, because, in winter, fire guarantees our survival.

Electricity and central heating have made our lives more comfortable but they have also allowed us to become less aware (and appreciative) of the heat and light the element of fire offers.  To offset this, we can choose to really immerse ourselves in our respective festivals of light and to light a candle every night to honor the lifesaving element of light.

But I promised a second way of connecting to the elements.  What is this second way, you may ask. Open the door and go outside!

You don't have to stay out there long but you will find, as I did this morning, that it's the getting out that's hard and that time spent outside is incredibly revitalizing.

And the best part is, that once you're outside, you don't have to DO anything to experience the elements.  They are all waiting.  The air is wet with tiny molecules of ice and snow and it is always moving.  The earth is solid underneath our feet.  And far away in a gray sky, a pale winter sun is shining.

Ideas come easily in this season of air.  And this morning, as I shoveled a narrow path down to the street, I was inspired to write this post and to put the things I've discussed here to work in my own experience of the season.

This year, I have resolved to make the best of winter.  I resolve to dress warmly.  To build up my tolerance of cold.  To clear my inner space and honor each element in turn.  By doing so I honor not only the elements in their season but the energy of life.

May you do the same <3

For more on making the most of this incredible season please see:   Embracing the Seasons: 7 Steps to a Better Winter

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