Midwesterners have different relationships with winter. Some appreciate the time to hunker down and hibernate, some grit their teeth and endure it, and some outright embrace it, seeing a blanket of snow as an opportunity for a seasonal thrill.
There’s no one way to winter, and this year, we wanted to hear how some of our favorite creatives and contributors weather the season. Here are eight perspectives on whiling away the dark, gloomy months, from embracing ‘Hygge’ to trying a new endurance sport to kicking off a meditative practice called ICEWATCH23. Click on any story to read the full essay.“As I try to get through another Chicago winter, Hygge is helping me realize that my mental health and well-being are important and need dedicated time.”
Alison Cuddy, Chicago writer and curator, on the joys of swimming in a frozen lake
“This winter I pledged to drop the food delivery apps and return to the kitchen to create healthy, bright meals for my family and me.
Still, I’d been out of the cooking game for a minute, so I needed expert inspiration. I called on Erick Williams, the James Beard Award-winning chef and owner of Virtue Restaurant & Bar and Mustard Seed Kitchen in Hyde Park.”
Cianna Greaves, WBEZ morning producer, on reinvigorating her winter soup routine
Lou Foglia, Chicago photographer, on winter biking, gear and motivation to go further
“Whether it’s taking a few moments daily to center myself or treating myself every few months to a spa experience, the time and money I put into skin care is my way this winter of keeping my physical and mental health a priority.”
Samantha Callender, WBEZ digital fellow, on building a better cold weather skin care routine
“I slowly discovered that in winter, the world slows down, and I can too. I didn’t feel the same guilt as I would in summer spending an entire day indoors making images or objects in my studio. In winter, I could sit down, focus and hone in on exactly what I wanted to make.”
EC Miller, Chicago artist, on finding that creative streak in winter
“As winter darkness and cold deepened in early 2021, I wondered if cross-country skiing might be at the sweet spot of recreation and acid test for a middle-aged man in reasonably good shape trying to escape a never-ending pandemic.”
Zachary Nauth, Oak Park writer, on learning to cross-country ski at 60
“Practically, ICEWATCH is very simple. Every few days of the winter I bundled up, walked over to the lake, observed the ice, took pictures and then went home.”
Cori Nakamura Lin, Chicago illustrator and designer on the spiritual practice of icewatching