Enjoying White Snow to Take Away the Winter Blues

Catching the Holiday Crud

My holidays were nice as I celebrated the season with friends and family. But there has been one lingering reminder of them that I’d like to shed. Somewhere in a concoction involving lack of sleep, traveling, visiting friends and family, and eating poorly, I managed to succumb to a spreading crud and get sick. Sick enough that I have been laid up for a bit and I have had to face the winter by looking out my windows – and I don’t like that.

Stuck Inside, but not Completely

It did remind me of winters in the past. My Philly upbringing was full of damp, mediocre winters often devoid of snow and winter fun. Winters to our south often run like that – an in-between mix of weather which isn’t good for snow sports and yet isn’t pleasant for many other activities either. Thirty-five to forty degrees and rain is crummy for pretty much everything, after all. And so, I’ve felt a bit like I did at times during my childhood winters – bored, sluggish, agitated, and anxious for a change of pace to get out and explore. All that snow outside and I couldn’t use it!Wren - Lake Clear 

But I’m a bad patient. That’s mostly because I’m impatient with my own body and don’t give it much time to heal. And so I continued to go outside – briefly, mind you – to at least experience some of the winter. Wren was my excuse. She would sit in front of me and stare at me with hope in her big, brown eyes. “When are we going out to play?” they would ask. “You might be sick, but I still want to have fun.” Then she would nudge me – even taking my hand from the computer mouse if I was taking a vain stab at some work in my foggy state. Eventually I’d realize I wasn’t getting anywhere on work anyway and she’d win out. She always does.

One great thing about the Olympic Region is that we have so many great places to explore which don’t require much energy for folks who may be less adventurous, less physically capable, or who are sick - like me. While I may have wanted to be out cross country skiing for hours or snowshoeing a mountain, my body wasn’t going to allow for that. It could, however, handle the Bloomingdale Bog Trail. Or the railroad tracks along Lake Colby in Saranac Lake or the trails near the John Brown Farm in Lake Placid. And so I went out – doped up on cough syrup, decongestant, and Ricolas, and avoiding public places so as to not get anyone sick or to have my neighborhood doctor glare at me.Bog Trail - Blue Sky

Spending Time Outside is Important

And while my time outdoors may have not been recommended for beating the crud which had invaded my body, it did have a helpful mental effect on me. I felt less clouded, less agitated, and more positive overall. That’s no surprise. There are tomes of empirical data which tell us that time outside and exercise are indispensible for us to function at our best. And I’ve long known I need it to feel somewhat human. But my sickness was showing me yet again the importance of such things.Wren - listening 

And yet many folks still don’t understand this truth. They hide from winter like it should be avoided – drawing the curtains and remaining indoors until their television tells them it is safe to emerge. Even our forecasters often shamefully cheer for warm weather without snow – something that always strikes me as ridiculous. Snow is beautiful and amazing and it should beckon us to explore the world around us, not to simply huddle inside. After all, if you no longer like snow, it probably means that you are officially too old. But getting out and enjoying the snow and cold will keep you young – both in body and mind – something to which we all can aspire. It is the best way I know to combat the winter blues, and the only way to take full advantage of this beautiful time of year.

 I’m still slowly healing and hope to be out skiing hard again soon. But until I fully recover I’ll still be getting outside. After all, Wren won’t let me get away with staying indoors.

Beat Your Blues

Why not test me on this? The next time you are feeling restless, get on your cold weather gear and explore one of our snowshoe or cross country ski trails. I'd bet after 15 minutes or so, you'll be applauding yourself for the effort. And, of course, a reward is in order - stop by one of our cozy cafes and grab a delicious soup, or choose a hot drink here's a great blog on some of our favorite local hot beverage spots. Now that you've made it outside, you can even grab a book and cuddle up on your couch for a good read without feeling guilty. What have you got to lose, except the blues?

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About The Author

Alan Belford has spent much of his life outdoors exploring and learning about wildlife – particularly birds. Alan is often out hiking, paddling, running, or cross country skiing – with his Labrador retriever Wren at this side. A certified teacher and former cross country, baseball, and ultimate frisbee coach, he loves teaching others and has taught multiple natural history (specializing in ornithology) courses for both college students and the general public. He is a licensed guide in New York State, he has traveled widely both domestically and internationally, and he is also a published travel writer and photographer – focusing on outdoor and nature writing.

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