It’s Wintertime, and the living isn’t easy. During January and February around here, it doesn’t get above freezing most days. Snow and ice come down, and you do your best to move it, but it’s not going to disappear. The melting that does happen only seems to create gigantic killer icicles hanging from your roof.
We usually manage to accumulate enough ice on an awning to create a big ice dam. One year, it broke off and destroyed the wood stairs to our back door! The ice dam smashed the stairs to bits! On the down side, that caused a few months of jumping from the porch to the ground. On the plus side, that spring I got a nice lesson in building steps! Although, the supplies cost a good $30 (treads plus wood to make stringers), and I would’ve rather the steps not have been destroyed in the first place.
Winter is one of the reasons why I started taking the bus instead of driving. Winter means work around here! It means your furnace or boiler has to work harder, and you have to pay it more money! It means you have to work shoveling the snow! (Unless you push a snowblower around like a dip) And work builds character, right? Well, that’s all well and good, but it still sucks.
The days are shorter and if you spend your days in an office, you’re hardly ever going to see the sunlight. It’s maddening. But I decided to try to make the best of it. There are ways to look at this forecast, lift your head up and say, “Oh, that’s not so bad.”
Snow every day, with highs in the upper 20s. At some point during the winter, you just have to give up and admit that 30 degrees feels warm. It’s the plunging sub-zero temperatures, and, mostly, the wind that makes the cold horrible. Twenty-five degrees and snowing isn’t that bad, if you know how to take advantage of it…
I’ve had a few Black Friday shopping experiences that were awful, but without a doubt the best was going to Ocean State Job Lot, the northeastern overstock re-seller where “Shopping is an Adventure!” Instead of tvs and laptops, the front of the Ocean State Black Friday flyer boasted of “Tarps! Tarps In All Sizes!” But they also had snowshoes on sale.
I tried snowshoeing once, renting a pair for $5 at a state park, and liked it pretty well. You can go places in the snow that you wouldn’t be able to in boots, and you keep your feet dry the whole time. Check some prices for snowshoes online and you might be stunned to know that Ocean State Job Lot was selling adults’ snowshoes for $30 a pair. That’s a steal! So I bought up some Black Friday snowshoes.
Now I understand why people cross-country ski in the winter. Snowshoeing only works when the weather has already gone bad, so it gives you something to do, a way to stay active outside. And staying active helps your mental well-being. Now the snow isn’t a hindrance, it’s an opportunity! I’m lucky to have a state park on an island only a mile away from my house, with trails that are perfect for snowshoeing. The trails are well-trod in the summer, but in the winter, you’ll only find a few hardy souls trekking across the island. So right in the middle of three cities, you can find unbelievable peace and quiet. And deer!
A family, or families, of deer live on the island, and I inevitably end up seeing them in the winter, what with the lack of scary humans lurking around, and all the leaves fallen making for more clear views. Speaking of animals, another way to have fun outside is…
With your dog!
Since we don’t have a yard, Maeby likes a good run at the dog park sometimes. This is the only thing greyhounds know how to do, after all. She likes being around other dogs, but doesn’t really understand how “play” works. So she’s just as happy to sprint around on her own.
Luckily, the winter opens up all new opportunities for running. The municipal golf courses are closed and basically turn into enormous dog parks! Normally you’re not supposed to let a greyhound off-leash, like, ever. But since the golf course is so huge and flat, she can’t really leave our sight. Plus, the snow slows her down.
Here’s a video of Maeby making a great push to romp through the snow and really get that sprint going.
Featuring music from John Wizards to cover up our voices.
If you haven’t had enough snow, you could get even more exercise outside…
By shoveling all of the snow in existence!
A big pet peeve of mine, maybe the biggest, is people who don’t shovel their sidewalk. Or don’t shovel it fast enough. You can’t leave it, neighbors! If you leave it, even for a day, it compresses and melts and re-freezes, and suddenly it’s impossible to shovel!
I get out there as soon as the snow starts piling up, clear it out, and form a wall between the sidewalk and the street, with a helpful gap to let people get to the street. Once the snow stops, I salt the sidewalk so that there’s nothing left. You could swear we had heated sidewalks, it’s so clear! In my head, people are crunching across the neighbors’ rocky ice sidewalks, giving the evil eye to every house that hasn’t shoveled, and then passing our house with a smile and thinking, “Those are responsible people!”
But honestly, what ends up happening is that, if not enough people on the block shovel, pedestrians just walk in the street! We can’t have that. A little kid got killed by a garbage truck while walking in the street the other day. Come on, stupid neighbors! What are you doing, spending all day indoors having fun…
With wintertime crafts!
One of the blogs I read is the Vermont State Parks’ blog, which is actually a great place to read about recreational opportunities you might never have thought of. For instance, I never knew that adults were sledding using super expensive steel sleds and roaring down mountainsides like Olympic lugers! Their entry about sledding at state parks has me convinced that I need to, one day, buy a $200 sled. Watch some of those videos and you’ll be convinced, too.
They also talk about crafts and talked about how to make giant colorful ice marbles. It’s so simple and the supplies are so cheap, it’s almost like, why wouldn’t you try it?
1. Drip food coloring into balloons.
2. Fill balloons with water.
3. Tie them off.
4. Leave outside for a day or two.
Then all you have to do is peel off the balloons, and you have colorful decorations for your lawn, or mysterious weather phenomenon that suddenly start appearing on your neighbor’s lawn. They look good enough to eat, but sadly, they won’t taste like anything when you chomp on them.
While you’re waiting for the marbles to freeze, why don’t you sit inside…
With a never-ending torrent of music, movies, and tv shows!
I won’t deny it. Sometimes it is great just to put on Netflix or Hulu and let one movie or tv episode continuously play into the next. Just pick your poison! Cooking shows, travel shows, Too Cute: Puppies, the Criterion Collection of Ingmar Bergman movies. You could hardline BBC period dramas for probably 500 hours straight. Maybe you make a nummy, cheap meal from the Cost Per Serving series and tuck in with the entirety of Arrested Development or The Aquabats! Super Show!
But do you want to know my favorite thing that lifts my spirits? It’s the 12-part music video Girl Walk. I like to get on the treadmill or stationary bike and put this on. Part 2 is below.
There is also one thing you could not do that should lift your spirits. Enjoy your winter…
By not spending money on one of those jive lamps that are supposed to imitate the sun!
If you are to believe the reviews online, these bizarre little lights work and help to improve people’s moods with light and “positive ions.” Whatever. Maybe it does! I just think it’s insane to sit in front of a light, just sit there, and improve your mood. That’s nonsense! That’s something crazy people do. Get out and move, use your brain and do something fun. Save your money for something better, like early retirement.