I listen to the howling of the wind as it whips the snow drifts about our modest rambler. Branches dangle from their fragile joints and birds huddle beneath boxwoods and holly. The bird seed scattered just moments earlier is now covered with a new layer of snow. In the warm glow of our fire, the scent of tomato, garlic and onion from the bubbling pot of chili drift throughout our home. The dogs lay at our feet gnawing on their bones, and we huddle in the family room, surfing through Netflex …as we brace for the storm.
Just days before, we, like so many others in our community, were collecting our supplies to ready for the blizzard. Flashlights were recharged, shovels and eco-friendly salt positioned by doors, fresh treats and toys to entertain our dogs, ingredients for soups and stews and favorite comfort foods purchased and stored.
Cars fully gassed and parked, we were ready…almost delighted in the idea of a weekend of snowshoeing, book reading, movie watching, family- time!
The first 24 four hours were beautiful to witness as the white blanket began to cover the brown and drab of winter. The contrast of cardinals on snowy limbs resembled holiday greeting cards now discarded for the season.
Social media ignited with pictures of snowy backyards and decks, while friends and family in more temperate climates were not denied their contribution of palm trees and sunny skies.
“Wish you were here!” captioned a picture of a friend laying on the beach drinking her umbrella fruit drink.
“Right back atcha!” replied another as she sat in her steaming hot tub, snow falling around, enjoying aged brandy.
There was a time that I would have joined the ranks of ‘winter-haters.’ I had been in the tropics my early teen years and seeing Santa in anything other than Bermuda shorts just seemed wrong! Winter in Maryland was cold, and boring. So I grumbled and grunted the months away only to count the days to Spring.
Then, somewhere along the way, I realized that I was complaining a quarter of my life, wishing the months would vaporize into warmer days. I was missing out on any opportunity to witness beauty and joy that I might experience even on a snowy, bleak winter day. So, I decided to learn to love winter. It is with this intention that I offer to you a few of the tricks that helped me transcend my winter bah-humbug blues:
Transcend the Winter Blues
1. Comfort Foods- What are your favorite cold-weather foods? Let’s face it soups and stews, ciders and hot cocoa (aged scotch or brandy, for that matter) just taste better when it’s cold outside. I could appreciate winter food and drink with little effort.
2. Winter Sports– I made a list of activities that could only be experienced in snowy weather. This list included ice skating, snow skiing, tubing, snowshoeing, making snow people and snow angels.
Again, my childhood did not include weekends at the slopes, so I invested in lessons. I learned to ice skate at a local arena and I took ski lessons any chance I could. While I never acquired a passion for either, I found I really loved sitting by the warm fire in the ski lodge with a hot beverage and enjoying the glow that physical fatigue offers after a day on the slopes or ice.
I did discover, however, that I loved tubing. After all, if you are going to end up on your bum …why not begin there! I later obtained snowshoes and thoroughly enjoy romping in freshly fallen mounds on a quiet evening. If you are more of a spectator of sports, remember there is always the Super Bowl, March Madness, and the Winter Olympics (every four years).
3. Dress Appropriately- Winter is cold and I learned quickly that my jeans and bubble jacket just weren’t enough warmth to contribute to this new quest to appreciate winter. So I invested in the real deal. Insulated, wicking pants and jacket along with matching head-ware and gloves. What a difference appropriate winter clothing make. Trust me!
4. Huddle in Community –I live in the best neighborhood ever! In addition to keeping an active email blitz going to check in on our aging neighbors and help out with an occasional heater that malfunctioned, we arranged a snow person contest followed by a potluck feast. Laughter and silliness permeated the wet gathering. Then to peel off the snowy gear and warm by a fire with a table spread of remnants of each neighbors idea of comfort food. Yum!
5. Relish the Silence –I am inherently an introvert. While I thoroughly enjoy my practice as a counselor and academic career as a counselor educator, I recognize my need for quiet. I always have a book or two (or three) sitting on my nightstand waiting for me to openly indulge in the literary wisdom or adventure. Snowy wintery days are perfect to lounge in favorite snuggle-wear and read away the hours guilt-free.
6. Appreciate the Beauty –It is no secret that I swoon to the beauty of nature regardless of season. The birds are magnificent as they feast at the feeders on suet and seed. The squirrels running along the branches, dodging snow drifts that randomly plop from the tree limbs. The red berries against the green holly bushes framed by winter’s white. If you are fortunate to live near a forest you may spy a family of deer out for a moonlit walk. Winter offers a natural beauty unique to the season…if we only open our eyes.
7. It is Temporary -For those who ,after exhausting all possible avenues to appreciate winter months, still crave the warmer weather, I remind you…it is a mere few months that (if sprinkled with an occasional tropical vacation) will be over before you can say, “Easter Bunny.”
Yes, winter is all about perspective and (for some of us) patience.