The Enforced Productivity of Winter
Winter time is here-now, no booing, we knew this day would come- and with it, we are more and more finding ourselves relegated to the indoors, trapped by the unpleasant temperatures. This season leads the vast majority of us to gorge ourselves on caloric delights, knowing the time of skintight camisoles and flesh baring bikinis are over for the next several months. To some of us, though, wintertime can create a feverish need to nest. In this biological impulse, I have found something interesting- my once organized apartment now holds a level of cleanliness I had not thought possible.
During the summer, it was too hot to bake; I made lots of lemonade and cool summertime foods like fruit salad. With winter’s approach, I have been baking almost every night (much to the delight of my boyfriend) cookies, cakes, brownies, stews, casseroles… if I find a recipe, I have to try it, right then! But the winter hasn’t only led me to food preparation: with the ever dropping temperatures, I find in myself, my inner magpie, storing vast quantities of supplies to survive the winter. I went grocery shopping with a list of 8 things. 8! What I came back with was over 70 items!
The behavior is not only relegated to acquisition, it has also affected my cleaning regimen- I clean twice a week, normally, more if I’m expecting company. Recently? I have found myself cleaning one room every day. Mind you, I have a two bedroom, one bath apartment, there just isn’t that much to clean. Yet my primitive brain just uses it as an excuse to get creative. Vacuuming baseboards, washing the walls, Windex-ing every remotely glass surface and polishing my few wood pieces to a high shine.
This extreme behavior is known as “nesting” and is a throwback to our days when hoarding food and supplies often made the difference in living to see the spring. Back when fat was attractive, because it meant wealth. And taking care of the nest? Helped to reduce the risk of disease or infection. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon is more prevalent in females, as shown by this blogger, who made soap when her sons pointed out to her the deluge of wintry slush.
Think about it- when it gets cold, we seek out high-caloric treats as comfort foods. With the darkness of the season, we gather around together around feasts of epic proportions. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and even Easter are celebrated during the colder, harsher months of the year.
True, with today’s abundance of ever-ready food, we aren’t facing starvation like our Highland or Viking ancestors, but the evolutionary need to fatten up remains engrained in our DNA. Conversely, our memory is foggier during this time than in the warmer months, and we are more irritable. We sleep more often during the coldest parts of the season and for longer durations. But we are more reliable about keeping our “nest” clean, though studies show our garages or storage units may suffer some serious neglect.
This leads into the time of “Spring Cleaning”, when we purge the nests of out cold weather acquisitions and empty our houses, having successfully survived another winter.
But, if you don’t want to take the time to appreciate the science , or you just don’t want to read another page of the long, rambling text of science-y stuff, here it is broken down into foul-mouthed classical paintings.
The winter behaviors may be ingrained in my DNA and I may look like a magpie, buying boxes of brownie mix, macaroni and various other unnecessary sundries but hey –at least my oven is finally clean.
By: Ashley Scott
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