The Farmer’s Almanac called for a cold and snowy winter for the start of 2014 and as usual they were right. Though I’m not sure if even the farmers were prepared for this “polar vortex” that has descended upon us, dropping massive amounts of snow and bringing wind chill temps that are colder than the planet Mars. It is still the first week in January which means we have at least two months left of the bitter cold weather and already cabin fever is creeping in. I am one of those crazy people who actually enjoys winter but I still get impatient when snow threatens to fall in late March. Nevertheless, I have found there are ways to survive the winter season, and yes, to even enjoy it.
1. Have a winter reading list.
I know, not everyone loves to read, but the winter is the perfect time to spark an interest in literature. Nothing passes the time like a good book and what a perfect time to expand your brain capacity. Think of reading as a way to ensure good conversations while you are at the beach next summer. You can even think of it as a cheap vacation, cause God knows, it is the usually the only vacation I can afford. I personally love to read Russian literature in the winter. Go read Anna Karenina or Crime and Punishment; there is something about reading the great Russian authors that gives one an appreciation for the cold climate. Not to mention these are some of the greatest works of literature period and after you read them you can go and brag about it to all your friends…like I am doing now…moving on.
2. Make sure you buy the right winter gear.
I never have much sympathy for someone who is complaining about winter while wearing tennis shoes and a light jacket. Winter is not the time to look “stylish” while you are walking around outside; it is time to bundle up, like our mother’s asked us to, and protect ourselves from the cold. The most important thing is to find the proper foot attire. Cushy, waterproof boots, that are high enough to keep snow from getting inside, will go a long way toward keeping you warm. Make sure you have several layers up top as well; keeping your torso warm is extremely important when battling the shivers. Then you should get a nice trapper hat made from rabbit fur (or synthetic fur if you prefer) like me. This hat is so warm that I often have to pin it up or take it off because I begin to sweat while wearing it. If you wear the right winter gear, you won’t get cold, trust me, and then you can spend more time outside during the winter. Which leads to number three.
3. Make sure you have an outdoor winter activity.
Go sledding, cross country skiing, walking, or whatever, just get outside. Actually one of the main reasons people get sick more frequently in the winter is because they are stuck indoors along with everyone else and all their germs. Get out and let your swollen nasal passages breath the clean, non-germ filled air. I have found, with the right gear, a sunny winter day is one of my favorite times to be outside for extended periods. The way the snow dampens noise, the way air moves through both of my nostrils unrestricted, the way the air cools me down because I have too many layers on—it’s fantastic. Build a snow fort, hike, walk the dog, roll down your car window even, just go outside!
4. Don’t have a job
Ok this is where most people learn to loathe the winter season and there is nothing they can do about it. Getting up every morning and clearing the snow of your car in the bitter cold, then hitting the road for a treacherous 30 mile commute to a job that really is not worth risking your life to get to is where winter really sucks. Since you are going to work you can’t bundle up properly because who has time for that? You can’t sit at home and enjoy a warm cup of coffee and a good book because you have to pay bills. By the time you get home it is too dark to go outside and therefore the temperature has dropped ten to twenty degrees so, forget about that walk through the woods. Meanwhile your car is being pummeled with water and salt; every time the snow thaws there are a hundred more potholes to avoid; and worst of all, those fools in pickup trucks decide ridding your bumper is the best way to tell you they have four wheel drive. Driving in the winter is horrible and I do not actually have an answer for this problem. Call in sick. Ask for vacation time. Pray more. Whatever helps you get through the work week and the icy commute, do it. If you have any energy left when the weekend comes around, then put on some extra layers and go outside for a couple hours. If you get cold, come inside, make a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, or a fire (I forgot about fires!), and curl up with a good book. Try to remember how in about six months you will be fighting hoards of mosquitoes and a scorching sun. Personally, I prefer the cold to bloodsucking insects and skin cancer.