With our Australian winter setting in I'm remembering a neighbour from my childhood, Mrs Johnson, who used to sleep under a kangaroo skin. That was all she had on her bed right through winter, and the only form of heating she had was a wood stove. She never had a car and walked everywhere - rain, hail or shine. Her rooms were lined with books and she was possibly the most knowledgeable, interesting and healthy woman I knew, well into her old age.
There is an increasing number of people exploring ways to leave a smaller footprint on the earth - emulating people like Mrs Johnson (sans the kangaroo element I would hope) and living closer to nature. One of the ways I enjoy heading in this direction is by keeping warm and toasty the good old fashioned way - and I love it.
When it comes to the seasons, there's something very grounding about being in tune with nature, and for me that means sweating through heatwaves in summer and feeling the chill of particularly shivery cold nights in winter without any form of artificial heating/cooling. While I certainly depended on central heating during an extended stay on the cusp of a northern hemisphere winter, the only winter-warming power I use at home in Australia is for hot water and cooking.
Every year there is a day that marks the end of my summer. It isn't a specific date on the calendar - it just comes out of the blue. It's the day I walk into my bedroom and my doona with the crisp white Egyptian cotton cover just doesn't do it for me anymore. It's a bitter sweet transition from its cool fresh lightness to the addition of my textured winter-warm leopard print doona with it delicious golds, browns and cosiness, and with my velvety faux fur blanket thrown on top.
And no - as much as I admire the lifestyle in general that Mrs Johnson led, I have no desire whatsoever to emulate her choice of bedding! And when it comes to doonas, we now have a great range of synthetic and plant-based options, so we can be kind to animals and still be cosy and warm.
Because I choose not to use an electric blanket, my bedtime ritual includes filling my fluffy pink hot water bottles - both of them if it's a particularly cold night - and rotating them along the length of the bed so that there are no cold spots. I stopped using an electric blanket some years ago when I read reports claiming they create an electromagnetic field that affects our body while we sleep, which may lead to serious health issues. If the suspicion is there, then I choose not to take the risk. And besides, I enjoy resting my toes on the warm squishiness, reminiscent of childhood hot water bottles with their homemade covers knitted by my Mum.
For those of you with an electric blanket, you might like to consider turning it on earlier and leaving the room while it heats up, so that you can turn it off - and unplug – before bedtime. If you would like more information check out is your electric blanket safe
I love the feel of fresh night air blowing on my face through my open window, especially on cold nights when I am toasty warm under a mountain of doonas. I don't mind too much if it rains during the night - there is something rather romantic, in the poetic sense of the word, about waking up and feeling rain on my face - and I just stretch out and close the window.
So how do I keep warm during the evening - before it's time to call it a day? In a word - trackies! With the current fitness fever, sports stores and department stores in general are overflowing with trackie pants to tempt even the most dedicated fashionista. As well as this, the range of winter jim jams, dressing gowns and thick comfy socks is so good I often change into something colourful and comfortable the minute I walk in the door after work!
During summer I eat mostly raw but winter is a time for rattling those pots and pans – for exotic spices, Indian curries and root vegetables with their warm yellows, oranges, reds, maroons, and of course the many types of the now-not-so-humble potato. I make lots of warming food like roasted Mediterranean vegetables and sweet potato wedges baked in coconut oil, bowls of steaming hot vegie soup, and aromatic Indian Dahl. Rich coconut cream and vegie curries are a favourite. Instead of rice I often use quinoa - or a base of green leafy kale, spinach or similar, which wilts under the heat.
Steaming hot herbal teas are a staple and there is the winter-time treat of mugs of hot Golden Milk - home-made almond milk with a dash of coconut cream, turmeric and ground black pepper, sweetened with wild raw honey. Or sometimes homemade Chai with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
If I'm reading, working on my computer or watching a show on telly and the night is particularly cold I cocoon myself in a sleeping bag - feeling, as my Mother used to say, happy as a bug in a rug!
The one thing on my wish list that would up the bliss of my winter nights is an open fire with its soft glowing warmth, the magic dance of the flames, and the low-key crackling of the coals. But this doesn't fit high-rise apartment living so it is something to look forward to down the track. In the meantime, if you are lucky enough to have an open fire then you might like to share the warmth and leave your 'open fire' story in the comments below. :)
With warm wishes no matter what season you are in.