Different Worlds – Winter Blues

February in my friends' garden in Santa Monica © Gary Iselt
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Winter has kicked in in Brussels. It has been getting very cold the past few weeks, with freezing temperatures and snow storms, taking my ‘reserve’ of Californian sun and warmth energy in a blink of an eye! It also affects my mood and energy level to some extent. 

To dress appropriately here, my choices are limited: gray or black corduroy pants, a warm sweater.  Absolutely necessary: some sturdy shoes since the quaint cobble stone streets and sidewalks in Brussels are very slippery when it rains or snows. My red hat, scarf and gloves do spice up and color my otherwise plain winter outfit.

Snow on the cobble stone streets in Brussels © Kaat Cleenewerck

After years living in mild SoCal climate, where I never needed a thick winter coat, I have become very sensitive to the cold and gray in Belgium and have to bundle up all the time. In SoCal the nights can be chilly when a scarf and hat are welcome, But wearing gloves, a fur coat (even fake) and putting dogs in jackets during the daytime whee it’s comfy in the upper 50s is, as we say in French, “a bit exaggerated, don’t you think?”

The closest I got to ‘real’ winter when living in California was when I attended the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Sundance is the highlight, the ‘Cannes,’ of independent film; That’s where the entire indie community escapes to at the end of January. To network. To see premieres of the future must-see films. To socialize by frequenting (and frequently crashing) the famous parties.  

Which translated in the fact that the attendees wore casual, comfortable clothes: pants, sweaters and winter boots all the time, plodding through the snow to the film screenings and even to the parties. Not exactly elegant but no one cared. Cocktail dress code disappeared, the opposite of the usual Hollywood parties where everyone tries to show off the most chic outfits…

In Belgium, nature has a very different feel. Bland and colorless are the plants on the balconies, bare are the trees. In general it’s a time of winter sleep. Old cities like Brussels are build of stone and snowy weather does deliver some monochromatic idyllic winter landscapes of timeless city streets and parks. 

Snow landscape of the Warandepark in Brussels – photo courtesy © Dieter Demey

But winter in Brussels is not at all my favorite season, causing some winter blues. I drag myself through the incessantly gray and rainy days with cultural activities, movement classes, social media, going to the movies and watching Netflix, and of course, writing. When I get really desperate I go for a session (or two) on the tanning bed. Bad for your skin, I know, so don’t tell my dermatologist. I just have to – literally – absorb the ‘fake’ sun warmth into my entire body. Makes me feel better to “feel” that spring is around the corner. 

Beach promenade at the North Sea in Ostend © Kaat Cleenewerck

I’m longing for the first sunny days that will allow me to take walks on the beach – in Ostend but still- to infuse new energy into my depleted self. Then I can get also rid of those boring winter clothes and change into more colorful, cheerful summer dresses. Yay!

About Kaat Cleenewerck 11 Articles
After a 12 years "life adventure" in Los Angeles where Kaat Cleenewerck worked in independent film and as a journalist, she relocated a couple of years ago to her native country, Belgium. Yet, the ties with Los Angeles are still very strong, inviting, and most of all, inspiring.


  1. Good article, Kaat! “How do you know when it’s Winter in Los Angeles? People are wearing socks!”
    How lovely that you can have the ‘old world’ and ‘new world’ – both are magical. Happy travels!

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