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If you’re looking for your next read, but your concentration is suffering at the moment, your mood is low, your anxiety high and you’re feeling frazzled with the family’s demands on your lock down (locked up?) time, then this is the one to take comfort in. 

Katherine May’s memoir, “Wintering”, is a beautiful, gentle and lyrical study of her own winter – both physical and metaphorical. Her writing looks at the tricky times of life when we need to retreat in order to restore ourselves and parallels them with the long winter season as it descends slowly, settles and deepens - quietening and slowing everything in its path - eventually lifting as it always will with spring heralding new beginnings.

In many ways the heart of this book encourages the very ethos that Swallowtail Hill is built on – living closer to the seasons, recognising the cyclical nature of life and finding comfort in that. Not resisting the need to slowdown when it calls but accepting and valuing the change in pace and drawing inward for all that it can teach us.  In her book May says; “We must learn to invite the winter in. That is what this book is about: learning to recognise the process, engage with it mindfully, even cherish it. We may never choose to winter, but we can choose how.”

Into her own story, May delicately weaves a tapestry of discoveries about natural history, myth and legend. She visits festivals - pagan and religious, considers the spiritual, looks at cultures ancient and modern and all of it combines to create a wonderfully warm narrative. Winters aren’t to be feared for their ostracising cold but seasons – both real and figurative - to be experienced in full.

We’re all wading through our own winters at the moment on many different levels and for me at least this reminder that life ebbs and flows - just like the seasons - provided me with great comfort.  One to treasure and return to in future winters I think.

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