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Tips to Cure the Winter Blues

Three months into Permanent November (A.K.A., Global Warming, Vermont Style), this year it’s even harder than usual to know how to have fun getting through the rest of the winter.

Usually we can rely upon typical winter activities — skiing, snowboarding, sledding, or even just a nice walk in a snow-covered park — to get us through February and March.

But with little-to-no snow this winter, all bets are off.

One solution? I’ve been making do with a lot of outdoor ice skating.

The inevitable rains followed by the occasional cold snap have made for smooth ice on many of our swamps and smaller rivers. And it sure beats staying inside and feeling gloomy.

Another idea, for the more politically inclined, would be to turn the old dictum, “Think Globally, Act Locally” on its head. Instead, think locally and act globally.

You might, for example, try to figure out how the town of Middlebury abruptly discovered an extra $1.5 million in its treasury. Is anybody paying attention over there in the municipal building?

As for acting globally, it’s going to be another big year for the international climate change movement at http://www.350.org. It’s not too early to start planning how you might pitch in this year, to help cure what so obviously ails our planet.

Seeking further guidance for this second annual “Kicking the Wintertime Blues” column, I asked a number of friends to chime in with their ideas.

“Without snow to play on, what are you doing for fun this winter?” I asked them. “Do you have any suggestions for others?”

Within a few hours I had an e-mail box full of good ideas.

Sophie Logan suggests that even if it’s raining outside, skating can be a good choice. Her recommendation: ” Skate inside and pretend that outside is as cold as it is in the rink.”

Fran Putnam is one of the hundreds of people who have discovered the delights of watching the college’s top-ranked men’s basketball team. At just one game, she advises. “You will get enough excitement to get you through a snowless Saturday.”

Even with the lousy brown cloudy weather, outdoor walks come to the mind of many. “I’d suggest a short walk on the Trail Around Middlebury,” says Griffin Condon. “It’s beautiful. And don’t forget to bring a camera.”

Says Chris Stackhouse: “With no snow and warmer than usual temps , I think of nice short hikes like the Falls of Lana , Silver Lake , Buck Mountain, Snake Mountain or any wooded area where the absence of leaves allows one to see so much more of Vermont’s hidden beauty.”

Tracy Himmel Isham reports that on a recent 45-degree day, her seven-year-old daughter, Lily, asked if instead of going sledding on their hill as they would normally do on a January day, she could put on her helmet and go mountain biking.

Glenn Goodwin has his own tongue-in-cheek suggestions:

1.  Using dental floss to clean the cabinet door hinges in the kitchen

2.  Modifying the snowblower so it’s more NASCAR

3.  Re-enacting the Battle of Agincourt with lawn gnomes

4.  Ice golf

5.  Counting the snowflakes – one, two, three….

Chiming in with a batch of suggestions was Leigh Harder: “Write a poem, make a big pot of soup/stew, clean the attic, have a candlelit high tea with tablecloth and goodies, paint a mural on the wall, set up an outdoor treasure hunt, have a bonfire.”

Indeed, food was on the mind of several people. Jon Isham suggested “eating as much Thai food from Sabai Sabai as you can get your hands on.”

Laura Asermily encourages people to “Root through your roots: Concoct all sorts of roasted or blended root variations from what’s left in the cellar or fridge.”

“Attend the Middlebury Community Supper on Friday nights at the Congregational Church,” says Fran Putnam. “It’s open to the entire community.  You can eat there, offer to help with the dishes, or take a turn with a group that is preparing the meal. “

Leslie Ray, a friend who’s an American photographer and blogger living in Aix-en-Provence, reports, “I’ve gone over to the French side of things to get through the winter:  champagne!”

Also in a celebratory mood, David Andrews is turning to tunes for sustenance: “I’m trying to hear some good music at the Walkover Gallery in Bristol, 51 Main Street, Ripton Coffee House, and wherever else I can find it.”

Pieter Broucke, Director of the Arts at Middlebury College, has several good ideas:

“Break the cold with a (virtual) visit to Africa. The college Museum of Art just opened ‘Environment and Object: Recent African Art’ by contemporary artists who happen to be Africans. Some are international superstars, others are unknown, but all provide compelling work.

“Be romantic and take your loved one to a performance as part of Middlebury College’s outstanding Performing Arts Series,” Pieter adds. Or for outdoor lovers, “Take a self-guided tour of the public sculpture collection at the college: Works by Joseph Beuys , Tony Smith (the largest sculpture in Vermont), kinetic sculpture, and a LOVE cube by Robert Indiana. It’s free, and you can pick up a guide at the Mahaney Center for the Arts box office.”

This non-white winter has Jim Morse musing about jobs left undone. “I might break down and rake all the leaves that I didn’t rake last fall and that are still staring at me,” he says.

Similarly, acupuncturist Wendy Goodwin reports that because there is “no snow for cross country or snowshoeing, I’m thinking about cleaning out the clutter in my closets.”

Margie Beckoff gamely chimes in with the suggestions to “brew beer, and play board games and card games.”

But mostly, she says, “I miss snow!”

I’m with Margie.



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