I love winter. After summer’s fast pace, and autumn’s busy schedules, I am always grateful for winter’s calm and the solitude it brings. I love the way the sun sits low casting long shadows over the icy white landscape.
Here in the northeast winter has been particularly generous this season, and though I occasionally complain about another day of frigid temps and snow too deep, I actually love the anticipation that winter brings. The longer the deep freeze goes on, the greater my anticipation for spring. The short dark days, and long cold nights have me hibernating. It is the time for quietude, cooking, reading, knitting and games of scrabble fireside.
Winter also acts as sort of seasonal womb. With all of the stillness and isolation, nature provides us with the opportune time to go inward. It can be a challenge to be with the quiet of our inner world, the stillness there, the shadows, grieving, anger, fear and impatience. It seems though, to be a natural time to unearth these feelings and bring them to light. There is a beautiful Rumi quote that says “The wound is the place where light enters you”. I love the imagery of these words and feel the resonance of their truth within me.
As March begins, the light each day grows longer and though things don’t feel much different out there and I awake to another brisk 8 degree morning, nature knows its coming. The birds have started to sing with the break of day, the buds are starting to swell, the sun sits a bit higher in the sky and the shadows within and without grow shorter. The anticipation in me, growing ever more, imagining the great burst of creative life that will surely arrive with spring.
Some of my favorite ways to keep warm and inspired during this Vata season are steaming cups of chai tea, bowls of delicious oatmeal and live flowers in pots. What are yours?
1 gallon filtered water
Thumb size piece of fresh ginger root (peeled and slightly smashed with the side of a knife to release the flavors)
Handful of dried Lavender (optional)
Handful of dried Organic Rose Petals (optional)
20 Cardamom Pods (use a rolling pin to break them open and toss in the entire pod)
5 Cinnamon Sticks
20 Whole Cloves
20 Black Pepper Corns
4 Rooibos Tea bags or Tulsi Rose Tea to bind it.
Bring all of the ingredients to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 1 hour adding the teabags for the last 5 minutes. Strain in a fine mesh strainer. Add milk or the non diary creamer of your choice and honey to taste. I boil raw goats milk for 5 minutes before adding it to the tea. This removes the kaphagenic properties (heavy properties) of the milk making it easier to digest. Goats milk is less kaphagenic than cows milk and is also lactose free. Chai is wonderful for digestion and a great immune system booster. I keep a pot of it going on the stove daily. It keeps me in good health all winter long!
Blissful Bowl of Oatmeal
The secret to a great bowl of oatmeal is to use plenty of water so that you get a creamy consistency. Oatmeal is particularly beneficial for Pitta and Vata types in the Autumn and Winter season being a heavier grain. Kapha types can substitute quinoa and amaranth for a lighter equally delicious version.
3 tablespoons raisins soaked overnight*
1/4 cup walnuts or almonds soaked overnight*
3-5 figs or dates diced
1 teaspoon ghee
1 pinch ground cardamom
1 2 finger pinch (or to taste) cinnamon
1 pinch ginger powder
1 cup rolled oats or steele cut oatmeal.
3-4 cups filtered water
1/4 cup coconut cream (optional)
**Soak dry fruit and nuts in filtered water overnight. This makes them less dehydrating and easier to digest. If you are using almonds they should be peeled after soaking as the skins contain small amounts of arsenic.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt ghee. Add your grains gently coating them with the ghee. Add 3 cups boiling water along with the fruit, nuts and adding the spices last.
Reduce the heat, simmer stirring occasionally until you have a smooth creamy consistency. About 7-10 minutes, slightly longer for steel cut oats. Add the coconut cream for the last few minutes to the consistency desired.
Serve in a bowl with a few drops of rosewater and a teaspoon of rose petal jam. The most amazing rose petal jam that I have found comes from Medicine Flower in Oregon who imports them from Bulgaria. Medicine flower is an Organic resource for other fabulous products. The jams, while not certified organic, are pesticide and preservative free. http://medicineflower.com/preserves.html
I love to keep a small pot of live flowers on my kitchen windowsill throughout the winter months. This season I chose Cyclamen whose blooms look like little hearts. They sit in my kitchen window where I see them often. They bring me so much joy along with the promise that Spring flowers are just waiting to emerge from deep beneath the snow. Its a super easy plant to keep. you can read about them here: