February in Toronto is a study in bleakness. Weather warnings (Squalls! Black ice! Extreme cold!), commuting both ways in darkness, salt-stained trouser cuffs and Is this eczema or just plain old chapped? Every year at this time I feel another head cold coming on and think time for fortifications.
I go to hot yoga. I drink Bengal Spice tea from a thermos. To compensate for the lack of fresh salads I make Greens+ smoothies in mason jars and take them to school. I buy good-quality hand cream and keep it by the front door, so I can use it right before I put on my mitts. I stow the heating pad in my bedside table so it’s right there, ready to switch on 15 min before bed. In other words, I line up myriad small weapons against winter’s inhospitable reality.
One of my favourite fortifications this year was a spontaneous decision to alternate weeks of meal-sharing with a friend. There is something deeply warming about doubling the recipe for Chicken Marrakech and sending some along with half the box of couscous, not to mention receiving a family-sized container of spaghetti con carne (last week’s treat).
We probably won’t stay committed to this meal exchange beyond a couple of months. We probably won’t feel the need. But for February (and March, alas) it’s nice to feel a little extra cared for. A little extra mothered, maybe, when Mother Nature is being a stone cold you-know-what.