Winter brings a need to forge paths for connection that often feels more natural with warmer temps and longer days. At a time when the earth is dormant, covered in fresh and aging snow, we don’t seem to see our neighbors as much as when the flowers are in bloom, and the days are longer. It becomes more difficult to be outside with temps dropping and the sun setting early. I have been deeply grateful for some unseasonably warmer days that have allowed for walks with neighbors (masked up of course). With COVID numbers still high, and large gatherings restricted, it is challenging to find ways to connect in these colder months. People are feeling more isolated and alone, whether in their homes or in their social and political lives. It can often feel disheartening and overwhelming.
So how are you finding ways for connection amongst all the roadblocks?
Here are a few beautiful bright spots I have witnessed to hopefully inspire us collectively in our efforts for genuine connection:
- A Folwell resident put a call out on social media to help fund the heating of an encampment and one of the women organizing on behalf of those who live there. Within an hour more than $1000 was raised to pay for wood and folks’ time.
- Another Northsider takes weekly donations and does weekly drop offs of food and personal hygiene to the encampments of folks experiencing homelessness.
- One neighbor discovered that an elderly woman who lives on her block has no family around. She has taken it upon herself to check on her every other day to ensure she has what she needs. She has been doing this for months.
- A mother goes around and picks up food boxes and does weekly deliveries to families in need who can’t otherwise access the support.
- Networks are popping up as residents become neighbors who become friends, and as emergencies rise, folks are able to connect to the right people when they need a little bit of help.
- Re-homing has become a bigger thing as folks clean out their homes and trade with other neighbors. Instead of throwing items away, neighbors are regifting/rehoming their treasures with other neighbors who need them. It is a mutual way of taking care of one another.
- With more mild temps, this winter has been ideal for winter walks with a friend or neighbor. It is an opportunity to move our bodies, connect with the earth and with each other. So far, layering up has been enough to ward off the cold. Always be careful while walking while ice is everywhere!
It’s been a gift to bear witness to all the ways neighbors are looking out for one another. The way they are caring and supporting those who need a little extra help in these difficult days and weeks. No family has been untouched by the impacts of this pandemic, and we will continue to need each other as the months continue. Looking for ways to connect? Try joining local neighborhood Facebook pages. Write a card and drop it in your neighbor’s door with a way to contact you. Start mini book clubs with just one other person and discuss it on a walk. When the moon has risen, take a moment to go outside and admire the lights of the night. Start those indoor plants or seedlings for the spring.
The days are short and this season is long. It is easy to feel disheartened. My winter wish for you is that this season will provide you with new ways to connect to yourself, others, and the earth in more meaningful ways that didn’t happen before. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Take care of yourself and let’s help each other out.