Last week, I was talking to a friend about our recent, unreasonably nice weather (almost 60 degrees in January? Love it!). He told me about a relative of his in Florida who told him that having no winter wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. When you live in a state without four seasons, there’s no real downtime, he elaborated. If you golf, you golf 12 months a year. If you have a lawn to cut, you have the mower out every week, 52 weeks a year. If you are a gardener, the weeds never stop coming. There is no pause in the activity you enjoy to give you much-needed respite; oftentimes, a fun hobby changes into a not-so-pleasant, mandatory task. Winter months allow for a change of pace when your body is given time to relax and your mind a chance to concentrate on something else.
Then I saw a friend out walking her dog and she reinforced this notion. She said as much as her husband would prefer to be in St. Barts beginning in January (happily retired), she prefers going in February/March because January offers much-needed downtime. With the holidays behind you, grey skies, and a tendency to be chilly, you don’t feel guilty just hanging out at home, going to the movies, and eating comfort food for a month.
I have always loved four seasons, but I hadn’t really considered the restorative nature of winter. For those of us who live in northern cities with distinct springs, summers, falls, and winters, it gives us a chance to take a breath. I like putting away the rake in November and getting out the snow blower. I enjoy going through the annual catalogs and thinking about the plants I want to put in my garden in May. Each season is a bit sweeter because you know it only lasts a few months. (Yes, we all wish winter was really only January–March, but we know there are two more months to add to that list if you live in Cleveland.) So here are a few ideas about how to survive Cleveland winters:
Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder with a sun simulation light.
While most of us have the cold weather gear to get through the chilly winter months with snow and wind, contiguous days of grey skies that give you seasonal mood disorder can make winter seem longer than it really is. Sun simulation lights/alarm clocks are great for days you have to be up and in the shower 90 minutes before the actual sun rises. These can make it so much easier to do! If sun lamps aren’t your thing, consider a Vitamin D supplement for overcast days.
Take care of your car…and find one with four-wheel drive, too.
Since we tend to have heavy snow days, a car with four-wheel drive can be a lifesaver. Additionally, spraying your windshield with vinegar may prevent ice from forming. Foggy windows can also be a hassle while driving long distances, so a quick spray of an ammonia-based window cleaner might do the trick if you have repeat problems.
Keep a blanket in close proximity.
We’ve dealt with polar vortexes in Cleveland, so we know how cold it can get around town. If you don’t have automatic start on your car, your car could take a while to warm up. A blanket is perfect in times like these. Consider stashing some hand warmers in your glove compartment (HotHands have always worked for me!) as well as extra hats, gloves, and scarves in a winter emergency kit in your trunk.
Don’t let other drivers intimidate you.
Some days, you might get on the road before the plows and salt trucks. We might have been voted some of the worst drivers in the country, but that doesn’t mean you have to fall into that category! If your car is slipping on black ice, go as slowly as you need to. If someone else has an issue with it, they can go around you. It’s not worth potentially getting into an accident, and most workplaces understand the struggles of Ohio winters.
Get out of the house!
Pick at least one indoor bucket list item a month from Scene Magazine’s 100 Things Every Clevelander Must Do. And don’t be afraid to step outside every so often! There are tons of great local activities. We’ll have more for you in our next blog.
Daylight savings springs us forward adding quite a bit of evening daylight hours on Sunday, March 8th…..just two months to go!