In Defense of Winter
BY DR. NURIT ISRAELI
Photo by Dr. Nurit Israeli
“Not the sun or summer alone,
but every hour and season yields
its tribute of delight.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
We are still in the depths of
winter. Formally, in the
winter continues until March 20,
when the equinox occurs and
spring is scheduled to take over
(though winter frequently disregards
its deadline and takes its
time to depart).
Winter has such a bad reputation!
I am often asked if I don’t mind
spending months in cold weather.
Actually, I am grateful to be living
in a state with four distinct seasons.
I like the changes of scenery, of
color, of light. I enjoy the alternating
lifestyles, the opportunity
to experience the same place four
Even so, until moving to North
Shore Towers, I felt burdened by the
challenges winter poses: having to
venture outside in freezing temperatures,
snow shoveling, icy roads,
downed trees, power outages…
But since moving to North Shore
Towers, I can enjoy all that winter
has to offer without being encumbered
by the hassles. Winter vistas
are so tranquil from behind windowpanes!
The golf course viewed
through our windows, against the
backdrop of the Manhattan skyline,
takes on a dramatic look.
The trees, standing bare, resemble
modern sculptures, each unique.
And when snow falls, the sight of
a soft blanket soundlessly covering
everything in perfect white is
enchanting. A particularly beautiful
snow scene is a full moon on a clear
night, shining a bright light over a
pristine snow-covered landscape.
Fortunately, as most everything we
need is indoors, we rarely have to
leave the premises and battle the
elements in poor weather conditions.
And when ready to venture
out, the roads are perfectly shoveled
What else appeals to me about
the coldest season?
Winter is time for home. The
cold weather prompts us to stay
indoors. It invites introspection
When we traveled to the North
Cape, the northernmost part of
Europe where winters are harsh
and long, I wondered how people
of regions, where the sun does not
rise for months on end, manage
to cope. It is there I learned the
Danish and Norwegian concept
of Hygge (pronounced Hooga).
“Hygge” is a term which has no
equivalent in the English language.
It is a state of mind, a feeling of cozy
contentment and well-being which
comes from enjoying life’s simple
pleasures. It is a way of making
ordinary everyday moments special.
Hygge offers an antidote to dark,
cold winters. Whatever contributes
to soothing surroundings is Hygge:
a soft light, the glow of candlelight,
a roaring fire, a mug of warm tea,
music which sets the right mood
or a fluffy blanket to curl up under.
Companionship and togetherness:
simple good times with family or
friends, are Hygge too. In essence,
Hygge is the art of creating intimacy—
with oneself, one’s home, and
one’s significant others.
On chilly winter days, the fireplace
is my favorite place (okay,
electric fireplace—a compromise…).
I love to move my reclining
chair close and immerse myself in
a good book. Or snuggle up on
the couch to watch an old movie,
indulging in freshly-made popcorn.
Or delve into magazine articles
which have been waiting patiently
for months. I love the homey aroma
of soup cooking on my stove,
a hot cup of tea with ginger and
lemon, spiced cider with nutmeg
and cinnamon, scented candles, my
assortment of soft throw blankets…
When possible, I enjoy the winter
outdoors too. On clear days, I like
to dress up in my warmest clothes,
and covered head to toe, venture
outside. The golf course looks so
different in the winter, with its
small frozen ponds and empty vast
spaces. And, one of my favorites,
Manhattan’s Central Park, offers
countless scenic routes, where I can
wander at my own pace, savoring
the peacefulness of the wide-open
meadows, the frozen lake, the mixture
of bare trees and evergreens.
I love to breathe in the crisp air,
watch ice skaters against the background
of the skyscrapers and complete
my journey in one of the small
cafes surrounding the park.
Now that I am mostly retired, I
days too. I enjoy walking out onto
a snow-covered ground, be the first
to carve a path in fresh snow no
one else has stepped onto before.
And I thoroughly enjoy swimming
in North Shore Tower’s pleasantly
heated indoor pool, seeing the
snow accumulating through the
Occasionally, I venture to the
beach. I crave the sea year round.
In the winter, the beach is usually
desolate; just a few stray gulls keep
me company. The waves coming
to shore seem more intense, and
watching the surf forcefully roll in,
is awe-inspiring. There is merit to
sometimes braving the cold.
Our life cycle has seasons as well.
Each season has its demands, its
blessings, its pace. Winters sometimes
test our resolve, but also make
room for reflection, for reveling in
the accomplishments of the next
generations, still in the springtime
of their lives, and for simple pleasures
we didn’t get to pursue in
earlier life cycle phases.
Arthur Rubenstein believed that…
“The seasons are what a symphony
ought to be: four perfect movements
in harmony with each other.”
Well, in the seasons of life, the
movements are not always perfect,
but we can aspire for some balance
and acceptance, as we transition
from season to season.
And of course, part of living
through winter is dreaming about
spring. Toward the end of March,
I am ready to bid adieu to winter
and welcome (when winter relents)
the renewal of spring—with more
daylight and milder temperatures,
the colors of new leaves, daffodils
breaking through softening
grounds, birds returning. In March,
I assuredly recite the English
romantic poet Percy Shelley’s rhetorical
“If winter comes, can spring be
No, not far behind. Almost here.
What a great time for spring to
return—right after winter! Living
through winter enhances our appreciation
of what comes next. In the
words of John Steinbeck:
“What good is the warmth of
summer, without the cold of winter
to give it sweetness.”
March 2019 ¢ NORTH SHORE TOWERS COURIER 13