A checklist for successful wintering

capital hills sunset blowing snow 2015-01-30

And winter can be beautiful.

Winter has finally decided to act like its normal self. And that's fine -- good even. The cold and gray can help us appreciate the warmth and green of summer.

But sometimes winter can be hard to take. So with that in mind, here's a checklist for successful wintering...

❏ Get serious about dressing warmly

competitive winter clothing layering illustration
And you'll be able to score points in competitive layering.

Yep, winter is cold. But that doesn't have to mean that you are cold. So dress like you're ready for winter. Start wearing an underlayer of some sort, ideally something that will wick sweat away -- both top and bottom (even a thin underlayer beneath your pants can make a big difference in how cold you feel). Find a few sweaters or a zip-up you can wear with different outfits. Get a pair of thin gloves that you can wear while doing other things (like digging your keys out of your pocket or purse), and maybe even wear inside a pair of mittens (because mittens mean you're serious about being warm). And, for the sake of your ears and all that's good, WEAR A @#$%^&* HAT!

Also, let's talk about coats a for quick second: You're going to need a good winter coat -- maybe even two winter coats depending on how you spend your time during the winter (something "dressy" maybe for work and something for winter sports). So, if you have the money, it's worth it to spend a little more to get a warm, durable, functional winter coat. You'll be wearing it all the time, and it'll make your life a bit better.

❏ Pick up an outdoor winter sport

hockey skates on ice

One of the reasons people tend to get a bit down on winter is that they feel like it's keeping them from doing a lot of the fun stuff they'd be doing the rest of the year. So, find some activities to look forward to that you can only do in winter, like skiing. Snowshoeing is easy to pick up and the gear doesn't have to be expensive. Get a pair of cheap hockey skates and take a few turns on the frozen pond. Buy a sled and head to one of the local parks.

It makes a big difference to have something like that to look forward to. It's the difference between "Oh, look, it's so cold the pond is completely frozen over" and "THE POND IS FREEZING OVER!!! I CAN'T WAIT TO GO SKATING THIS WEEKEND."

Bonus: A lot of these outdoor activities will take you to some beautiful scenes. Have you ever been back in the old course at Capital Hills right after a new blanket of fluffy snow? It's magical.

❏ Exercise

Speaking of sports and other sorts of related activity, it's worth it to carve time out during the winter to exercise. It's healthy for your body -- but also your brain. A lot of people start to feel a bit down this time of year, and exercising just a few times a week can help push back on the gloom. It doesn't even have to be anything complicated -- just going for a brisk 30-minute walk every few days can help.

❏ Cook something that warms up the house

winter bean recipes black eyed peas ingredients overhead

It also doesn't hurt that exercise burns calories, because you should be cooking some stuff to warm up the house. We're talking about the sorts of dishes that make the kitchen or whole house smell great and cozy. Soups, stews, braises, roasts -- all the sort of stuff you might not want to make during the summer because it's too hot.

Bonus: A lot of these dishes -- like a big pot of beans, or a braised piece of meat -- often can be used for multiple meals throughout the week. Cook it over the weekend and you've got easy meals during the week.

❏ Find a spot somewhere else

Winter can sometimes feel a little claustrophobic as you trudge from home to work back to home and repeat. So find a cozy spot (or two) somewhere out of the house. Maybe it's a semi-regular meetup with a friend at a neighborhood bar or pub or cafe. Maybe it's the library. It's just nice to have an easy place to go so you can get out of the house.

❏ Go somewhere a bit farther

Thumbnail image for hildene exterior manchester vt
Hildene in Manchester, Vermont. / photo: Patrick Correia

We're not talking about the Caribbean. (Though, hey, if that works for you, great.) Don't let winter stop you from taking day trips around the region. Wander around a huge museum like MASS MoCA or Dia:Beacon. Head over to a small town like Manchester, Vermont for a day of shopping and browsing. Hop the train and go to New York City for the day.

❏ Do something in spite of the weather

You are a hardy upstater. Don't let yourself become one of those "It snowed three inches, now I can't do anything" people. (You know these people. They're the same people who buy all the bread before a snowstorm.)

Hey, sometimes winter weather is going to make it unsafe and impractical to go places and do things. But many times it's really not that bad. And if you drive like you have even a little bit of common sense -- don't go too fast, brake early and lightly -- you''ll be able to make it around just fine.

❏ Embrace the burrowing

That said, there is a certain appeal to sometimes just saying, "No thanks, I'm going to burrow in here at home." And that's fine -- good, even -- to embrace that part of winter. Norwegian people -- who know a thing or two about making it through winter -- call this koselig, and revel in the chance sit by the fire and snuggle in blankets. There's nothing wrong with taking a snowy day to cuddle on the couch and watch a bunch of episodes of that TV show you've been meaning to catch up, or to finally read that book that you've wanted to get to.

Because when summer comes back around, you'll have plenty of other things to do...


I like to make a day of enjoying the outside then coming home and burrowing. There's nothing like a day of snowshoeing in the winter sunshine followed by a fire and a glass of wine. You've got to embrace winter if you want to keep your sanity around here.

This is an excellent list! Love it.
Now we just need one for all the warm recipes to cook for the next few months.

Great list. Now we just need some winter in order to our wintering!

I normally HATE winter. A combination of not being into winter sports and a genetic tendency toward seasonal hopelessness has shaped me into a winter-hater of the highest order...

...but this winter, I've been trying to apply the principles of koselig to my time, and it's helped enormously to reshape my thinking. I'm appreciating winter much more this year, instead of just gritting my teeth, burrowing under a pile of blankets, and waiting for it to end.

(And Danielle, I made this last night and can confirm that it's a perfect [and vegan and gluten-free!] winter recipe: http://www.thugkitchen.com/coconut_curry_soup)

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