anti-winter!
November 1, 2006 8:57 AM   Subscribe

I hate winter. How can I make the next four months better than they would be otherwise?

The winter has always been cold and dreary, filled with bad things and stress and having to walk everywhere while freezing.

I already bought earmuffs. Other than that, how can I make this winter more enjoyable? [preferably very inexpensively.]
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel to Health & Fitness (69 answers total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
 
Exercise. Lots of it. It will up your metabolism, which will keep you warm, and make you happier as endorphins are released.
posted by The Michael The at 8:59 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Whiskey?
posted by milarepa at 9:02 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Keep fresh flowers on your dining table and replace as needed. My husband did that last year and it made a surprising difference. The bright colors and good smells were very helpful in turning a crappy, cold winter day into something bearable and nice.
posted by onhazier at 9:03 AM on November 1, 2006


Assuming the primary problem is being uncomfortably cold all the time: Get some long underwear. You'll be astonished at the difference it makes. Make big pots of soup. Drink a lot of hot tea.
posted by RogerB at 9:03 AM on November 1, 2006


Oh, I love that flowers idea. Also, it's a good time to try out comfort food recipes.
posted by sweetkid at 9:04 AM on November 1, 2006


A light box may or similar full-spectrum light emitting device may help if you live in a location with limited sunlight.

And what The Michael The said.
posted by Carnage Asada at 9:08 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Start planning a pagan "we love the springtime" ritual party for the first nice warm day.
looking forward to spring is the thing that gets me through winter. i feel your pain.
posted by amethysts at 9:15 AM on November 1, 2006


Exercise (eg snowshoeing or walking/running) and the right clothes.

Merino wool underwear.

Fleece or wool midlayer.

Breathable windproof outer layer.

Wool socks.

Insulated boots.

Toque, eh?

The more time you spend outdoors in winter the faster it goes and the better you feel.

I always look forward to winter cuz it means I can buy more winter clothes, which I love.
posted by unSane at 9:17 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Silk long underwear and/or leg warmers.

Vaseline for all the chapped bits of skin.

Stock up on hot chocolate.
posted by contessa at 9:17 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Get a long down coat, preferably with a hood. They're not the most attractive coats around but they're definitely the warmest.
posted by hazyjane at 9:19 AM on November 1, 2006


Ginger and other spicy foods. Freakin' godsend to keep the blood flowing. Also, those charcoal toe warmers. Another freakin' godsend. Also, polarfleece socks. And whisky.

And while those who know me are shocked at this, I find that really really fun outdoor activities are good for helping me think more positively about cold. Visiting my best friend in St. Paul (where they understand how to cope with winter!) and going snow tubing made me less of a grump about snow.
posted by desuetude at 9:21 AM on November 1, 2006


Perhaps you could think about some things you like about winter: Hot toddies, toasty warm bedcovers, a fire in the fireplace, holiday parties....Rather than trying to ignore it, try to enjoy it. Go for walks in the woods, build a bonfire, buy yourself sometime nice like down booties or a brightly-colored fleece blanket. LOOK at how beautiful the world can be in winter, no matter where you live! Watch migrating birds, play in the snow, cook a festive meal, get one of those light therapy lamps. Winter is only going to be as depressing as you make it. It's not even here and you've already convinced yourself you'll be miserable. Try finding a copy of Edwin Way Teale's "Wandering Through Winter". You'll learn to appreciate the season in a whole new way.
posted by Lockjaw at 9:26 AM on November 1, 2006


Get one of those multiple spectrum light bulbs that imitate sunlight. They're purple-shaded, but give off better light than regular bulbs.

Plan a trip in February to someplace sunny. A three day weekend in Miami helped me have something to look forward to, and then afterwards the tan helped me into March.

Wake up earlier, go to bed later, to maximize the amount of sunlight you get.
posted by np312 at 9:27 AM on November 1, 2006


(SOMETHING nice. Buy SOMETHING nice. Sorry about that!)
posted by Lockjaw at 9:28 AM on November 1, 2006


Light box.
A good bourbon.
Shared body warmth: be it a lover or man's best friend.
Warm, high quality pajamas and a good pair of slippers.
A down comforter and/or a feather bed.
Burts Bees Lip Balm and Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream
A hot chocolate made with a lots of real cocoa and milk
A sturdy, waterproof pair of boots with thick warm socks
Windproof jacket
A scarf
Some good books
Some good DVDs
A comfy quilt to enjoy the books/dvds under
Homemade Soup
posted by MasonDixon at 9:29 AM on November 1, 2006


As for being out in the cold, I pretend it's a lot colder than it is and that I am bundled up like crazy. This makes me toasty warm by comparison. It doesn't seem to work for my girlfriend though (who now thinks I'm crazy) so ymmv.

How cold could it possibly get in Kansas?
posted by ODiV at 9:39 AM on November 1, 2006


I agree--exercise. Build a beach body this winter. If you can't do it outside, work-out inside to a DVD. I love Cathe Friedrich, Kelli Robertson, and the 10-Minute Solution. You could always practice up on your dance moves to DVD's. I think Crunch Fitness has a good dance/exercise DVD that is highly rated.

If you can afford it, buy yourself a couple pairs of wool socks and a pair of fun waterproof boots.

Relax at home with a comfy fleece or down filled throw. Drink hot chocolate. Try out new hot-chocolate recipes, or buy some interesting hot teas.

Make a winter to-read list. You could always read about sunny locales. The Orchid Thief or anything by Carl Hiaasen come to mind.

Take up a new hobby or craft. Make soap, scrapbook, needlepoint, or bake. Make every recipe in a favorite cookbook.

Invite friends over weekly for cards, chili, and hot toddy's.

If you are going to buy a few new sweaters this season, choose cheerful colors -- red, fushia, and cobalt blue, etc.

Granted, I have never experienced a bad winter in my life, but these are things that come to mind. Good luck.
posted by LoriFLA at 9:40 AM on November 1, 2006


hmmm Kansas? You may not need the waterproof boots! (smiley face)
posted by LoriFLA at 9:41 AM on November 1, 2006


I second the light box, the soup, the comfy quilt.

But as for cheap and easy?

1. Scarves. A thin silky one that you tie round your neck and wear under your coat to seal up the gap between your neck and the coat's collar, and a thick woolly one to knot over your coat and can pull up over your nose in a gust.

2. A good pair of gloves really makes a world off difference. Keeps the skin on your hands from chapping.
posted by Sara Anne at 9:44 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


I was amazed a few years back to discover how much of a difference a scarf makes in my warmth and my attitude. It was shocking how much less I hated going outside when there were no cold gusts sneaking in to chill my neck. Now I'm a bit of a scarf evangelist: so simple! so effective! Seriously, get one. (this from a walks-everywhere type in MN, and formerly Boston)
posted by vytae at 9:50 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


The best thing about winter is the Sunday roast. Always roast a huge hunk of meat on Sundays, and have extensive side dishes and a decadent dessert to go with it. Smells great, warms the house, gives you hearty food to eat for the week.

The best thing to do after dinner is read in front of a wood-burning stove or other heat generating wood-burning fireplace.

You should also visit a fitness/spa facility with unlimited sauna and hot tub use on a semi-regular basis. An hour or two bouncing back and forth from shower to sauna to hot tub to deck and back again does wonders.

I agree with exercise outdoors in daylight (even if it is cloudy) and the down (or equivalent weight synthetic down for the allergy prone) comforter. You definitely need a hat, not earmuffs. And make sure your gloves are stuffed in your jacket pocket at all times so you are never without them for one second.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:51 AM on November 1, 2006


Seconding what vytae said (thanks for giving me the courage to admit my naivete): SCARF! So simple, so cheap, so unbelievably effective. Who knew? The first day I wore one (as an adult, I mean), I had to check the weather twice to make sure it wasn't actually warmer outside. I can not believe what a difference it makes. And, get a nice soft one -- it'll make you more likely to wear it. I think the reason I stopped wearing them when I was 4, was because they were so damn itchy. A simple fleece one, though, is a joy to wear.
posted by sa3z at 10:07 AM on November 1, 2006


A humidifier for your sleeping area.

An electric heated mattress-pad (miles better than an electric blanket-- heat travels UP!)

Mulled wine.

Indoor projects such as moving furniture, painting, and organization.

When a blizzard is forecast, invite friends over for a sleepover, cook breakfast together the next morning.
posted by hermitosis at 10:12 AM on November 1, 2006


Winter is my second-favorite season after fall, so maybe I can help.

First, don't listen to all those people telling you to buy ugly winter clothes: fleece, down &c. Unless you are going skiing, do not make winter the season of uck. Wool. Cashmere (which you can get at Target for like $60 a sweater--Christmas is coming if you can't afford it). Thick scarf. Cute skirt + thick stockings and awesome boots (leather, not some ugly synthetic) if kangaroos wear skirts.

Then, do like ODiV says, and put on all your clothes at once and go outside and run around. Find some body of water that is freezing over and throw stuff at the ice. After that, go inside and be cozy. Repeat. If you find your home isn't cozy, make it so. I generally like clean & uncluttered, so I make sure my house stays that way, letting me appreciate how cocooned I feel. I revel in the sense of luxury that just being warm and protected can give.

On alternate days, cultivate an appreciation for bleak beauty: bare branches against gray skies kind of stuff. Look for the bleakest movies and books you can find. Wallow in it. Don't try to stay inside and read things about summer and pretend like you aren't where you are. You'll run out of distraction and notice it's winter and be sad.

Finally, mourn the return of putrid summer with its ugly vegetative and heat excesses.
posted by dame at 10:13 AM on November 1, 2006 [6 favorites]


Buy some amaryllis bulbs and plant them in a pot. Seriously. I got a few for Christmas last year and they amused me for at least two more months. They were gorgeous, and it was fun to watch each bloom emerge, open up, and eventually fall off, only to be followed by another big bloom. I took about a zillion pictures of them, and plan on buying more bulbs in different colors this year.

Clean out your closets. Plan a vegetable garden, or at least plan on what kind of veggies you can get away with planting in pots. Go through your books and CDs and find stuff to sell on ebay or half.com. Join Netflix and get engrossed in a tv series on dvd.
posted by printchick at 10:30 AM on November 1, 2006


Winter's already here in full force for us in Calgary (-10C out as I type). Some great suggestions so far.

I just bought a wool peacoat from Banana Republic and with the upturned collar, deep slash pockets and double-breasted front I can walk anywhere in total warmth and style no matter what the temperature. I'm also a big devotee of the thermal underwear layer. Silk is great. That and a decent pair of stylish boots (Blundstones or the like) and you almost look forward to walking around outside.

I second or third or fourth the exercise. Winter sports are a blast. I'm a runner who recently took up skate skiing and I love it. There's nothing like being out running or skiing on a totally still, silent, cold afternoon. It's not at all miserable.

Two words: outdoor rinks. I'd list free, pickup hockey as one of the best things about living in a cold climate. Fill a thermos with a warm beverage and head to the rink with a few friends.

Indoor activity is also great. I play squash a lot in the winter, lift some weights etc. The hot tub/sauna suggestion is good. Also...not my cup of tea but here a lot of people swear by a good hot yoga session on a very cold day.

Lastly getting together with friends and a few board games (as mentioned above) with a fire and some Baileys and hot chocolate is not a bad idea either. Throw your beers on the balcony to cool 'em down.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:31 AM on November 1, 2006


One dreary winter, my mom cheered us up with a beach party. We sat in the living room with swimsuits on. Beach towels on the floor, heat turned up to 80 degrees, beach umbrella and folding lawn chairs. We drank cold pop and ate picnic-style snacks and sandwiches from a cooler. We watched really stupid 60's beach party movies. It was so silly on so many levels that it couldn't help but make us all laugh at the idiocy of the idea - but it worked. Still one of my favorite memories of my mom.

Worth a try if you can get some friends to come over, at the risk of making them think you've completely lost it...
posted by caution live frogs at 10:36 AM on November 1, 2006


Even if you don't get a light box or full-spectrum bulbs, be sure to keep the lights up. Where I am, it gets dark quickly -- I'll find myself getting depressed in the afternoon, then realize that it's (at least partly) because I'm wandering around in an indoor twilight. I turn on a few more lights, move the dimmers up and suddenly I feel a bit more human again.

(Of course, don't turn your house into a UFO beacon. Just put the lights on in the room or rooms you're using.)

And get a couple of down comforters for your bed. They'll trap your body heat, and your bed will feel comforting and womb-y in the morning. (2 comforters do this much more effectively than 1.)
posted by PlusDistance at 10:51 AM on November 1, 2006


And wear a damn hat! You lose so much each through your head yet I'm constantly amazed by how many idiots I see waiting for a bus with no hat on.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 10:51 AM on November 1, 2006


Turn the lights on full blast as soon as you wake up even if you just lie there in bed squinting at them.

Invest in good warm socks and a hat and scarf that are so comfortable you never want to take them off.

Silk long underwear. Very nice against your skin, also insulating.

Insulate your house or if that's just not possible, try to pick one sunny room that you can try to insulate the hell out of and heat a little better so that you have one place to be in the house that doesn't just feel cold and damp.

Cook and bake often, filling the house with good smells and some good heat never hurts. Keep some water steaming on the stove with some lavender or mulling spides mixes.

Moisturize. Go to town on some nice smelling lotions and rub it into your face, hands and feet as often as possible.

Don't compensate too much with caffeine, chocolate and junk food. Try to find other indulgences that feed your need for comfort.

Electric mattress pad warmer. I don't like electric blankets, but this goe sunder my bottom sheet (flannel, natch) and I flip it on for ten minutes before I get into bed and the bed is warm, not cold. They're like $20-30, totally worth it, last forever.

Go on vacation someplace sunny in February or March.
posted by jessamyn at 10:58 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


For outdoors:
- warm hat -- earmuffs will not cut it below about 30 degrees, or if it's windy
- scarf -- can be gorgeous and stylish silk, cozy wool or fleece, whatever. And WORK it! throw it around your neck like an aviatrix or model. Instant glamour.
- mittens rather than gloves -- especially if you have a small frame or poor circulation to your hands, mittens a just unbeatably better than gloves. You can get a thin pair of glove/ glove-liners to keep in your pocket for driving or when you need extra dexterity.
- warm socks. Wool or wool blend are the best options here.
- Yes, long underwear. The silk stuff is sheer and sort of sexy; the wool blend stuff is a little warmer, I think. The cotton stuff is not nearly as good.

For indoors:
- wearing a pretty silk scarf indoors is stylish and makes you a lot warmer. Anything that covers your neck and sternum area will keep you warmer. (So, turtlenecks or high-collared sweaters are good too)
- slippers at home. Bare or socked feet on cold floors can suck the warmth out of you.
- hot shower or bath everyday, to reset your internal temperature system.
- cozy bed materials. Down quilts are super-warm; flannel sheets are warm and cozy too. If you don't like flannel, a set of 250-thread count sheets are expensive but so, so worth it for sheer hedonism.
- a small rug by the bed, so when you first step out of bed it's not onto cold floor.

Others have covered my best suggestions for what to do: bake, make hearty soups and hot drinks (hot buttered rum is incredible), get flowers, exercise. Have friends over. Nest.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:01 AM on November 1, 2006


Start snowboarding. Ever since I did, I've been longing for the winter every spring, summer and fall, like a kid waiting for christmas.
posted by cheerleaders_to_your_funeral at 11:05 AM on November 1, 2006


Also, consider learning to knit! Very fun for winter, and you have enough time to make a few Christmas presents out of it if you start now. Maybe a local shop has a stitch-n-bitch group?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:09 AM on November 1, 2006


Couldn't get the google maps to tell me where you live, and then several people mentioned Kansas. I soon as I saw that, I thought "Ahhhhhhhh. Of COURSE she HATES winter !!"

I know this is completely impractical for this winter, but for the future, consider a move to EITHER a sunny clime with practically no winter at all, ie, Florida, OR embrace the cold and move to a place where winter is an entertaining experience to be enjoyed.

I'm sure many life-time residents of colder states will tell you this is CRAZY. But, I'm guessing people originally from moderate climate zones who move to a much colder environment might also vouch for the fun of REAL winter.

I grew up in southern Ohio, and my family moved to Minnesota when I was thirteen. Ohio winters were bone-chillingly damp and cold, overcast, rainy, gray and all around miserable, with just one or two days of quarter-inch snowfalls to relieve the tedium. The ugliest Christmases ever.

But, after we moved to Minnesota, winter became something I really look forward to.

In Minnesota, winter is an adventure. Lots of snow, freezing and often sub-zero temperatures, blizzards, snow emergencies; constant conversational opportunities to discuss the weather; snuggling on the couch under a thick down throw with hot cocoa, a football game and the Sunday crossword, watching the snow fall outside, extra logs on the fire; white Christmases; ice-skating; cross-country skiing thru nature's winter wonderlands; sun-dogs in the early morning hours of the coldest days; dramatic changes in hours of daylight, early darkness in November and December, and then noticeably starting to increase in February when everything is at its coldest.

Not that we don't have our share of yucky days too, but for many, the beauty of real winter outweighs the days of slushy, dirty, melting April snow.

(ok. let the brickbats begin...)
posted by marsha56 at 11:26 AM on November 1, 2006 [3 favorites]


I feel your pain; my increasing dread of winter was one of the reasons I moved from Chicago (a city I adore otherwise) to L.A. Barring a move to sunnier climes, I recommend lots of soft, cozy things to help keep you warm -- fleece slippers/throw blankets/sweatshirts are nice. A warm pashmina wrap can function as a shawl or thick scarf. Silk long-johns and silk socks (to wear under regualr socks) are amazingly helpful. And speaking of footwear, make sure you have enough circulation in your feet when you wear extra socks. I used to just wear two or three pairs and shove my feet into my boots, and my feet would actually get colder because it made my boots so tight that the blood couldn't circulate as well to my toes!

The fresh flower idea is a great one. The smell of something delicious baking in the oven or bubbling on the stove is always comforting, too. And flannel sheets are a godsend (I even use them for a couple of months in L.A. during the rainy season)!
posted by scody at 11:50 AM on November 1, 2006


Heavy weights. Everyday. 80% of Max. Cold will cease to have any meaning. You will wear shorts all year round.
posted by ewkpates at 11:52 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


oh, just chiming back in to agree with the suggestions to make sure your place is well insulated. If you don't have storm windows (or if you do and the windows are still drafty), get some of those plastic sealant kits from the hardware store to put over your windows for the duration, at least for your bedroom and main living area. (It helps, esthetically, if you've got curtains or blinds with which to help hid the plastic.)
posted by scody at 12:08 PM on November 1, 2006


Thin cotton socks to wear _under_ your wool socks (sock liners?). They are wonderful.

Big fleece-lined hat. I have one - looks ridiculous, but oh so warm. Also some nice gloves.

A beautiful sweater.
posted by amtho at 12:16 PM on November 1, 2006


Nothing makes me hate winter more than cold, clammy feet. Buy some SmartWool socks and your toes will feel nice and toasty.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 12:32 PM on November 1, 2006


I used to not like Winter until I started cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Now I don't like Fall, because it's not Winter yet.
posted by jimfl at 1:49 PM on November 1, 2006


Need more information.
What is it about winter that you don't like?
Is it the cold? The lack of light? Something you like to do that you can't do in winter? Winter clothing? Christmas? Your dog died last winter?

When we lived in DC, my wife hated winter, especially the cold and dark. Now we live in VT and she likes it much more, even though it's darker and much colder. Why? Because of the things Marsha56 said- up here you can't wait out winter, you have to go out and embrace it. Find some things you like that you can only do in winter. My wife loves snowshoeing. It really warms you up, even when it's below zero. Plan a trip to the tropics for February. Community- find a friend who loves winter and hang out with him/her. Attitude is very important.

Finally- be glad your winter only lasts 4 months.
posted by MtDewd at 2:12 PM on November 1, 2006


Perhaps you are have Seasonal affective disorder.
posted by oxford blue at 2:24 PM on November 1, 2006


Have special winter music. I'm really into Christmas music, so as it's getting colder outside, I'm starting to listen to a collection of music I enjoy but don't hear for most of the year. By the time Christmas is over and I stop with that music, I've been eased into the season and I'm okay with the concept of winter.

You may not be Christian, but you can still have a little collection you especially like and only listen to in the winter. "Baby, It's Cold Outside," "Frosty the Snowman," "Winter Wonderland" -- I won't bother listing all the secular ones, because there are quite a few.
posted by booksandlibretti at 4:17 PM on November 1, 2006


Oil lamps, hot chocolate, and The Lord of the Rings. Get cozy.
posted by Zero Gravitas at 4:25 PM on November 1, 2006


Expensive suggestion: buy one of those lamps that gradually turns itself on and grows brighter over time.

Inexpensive alternative: put your bedroom light(s) on a timer so there's light in the room when you wake.

Find a way to insulate your outta-bed feet from the cold floor, carpet runner to the bathroom or fleece slippers.

If your living space is cold or drafty consider one of those little electric microfurnaces which pump out tons of warm air. You can use it to keep your overall house temperature lower and bills down, but make the bathroom supertoasty in the morning. This was a lifesaver in a truly wind-porous Chicago apartment.

And I vehemently second the hat-over-earmuffs recommendation. Hats, people! Now get of my lawn.

Winter is much more bearable when you minimize the little annoyances. And I also second getting outside on truly glorious winter days and doing truly glorious winter things. A day spent outside during the winter where you prepare correctly, never get cold, and have a great time will change your perception of winter forever. As opposed to those who say head somewhere warm for a break, I suggest the opposite. If you have a friend in Minneapolis, Denver, or somewhere else that gets real winter, not Kansas semi-winter, try to visit them and embrace the season.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 4:45 PM on November 1, 2006


Things that help me survive winter:
this sunrise simulator - it's much cheaper than any other I've found & works great (when I use it I wake up smiling because the room feels like summer)

an electric mattress pad to pre-heat the bed & a down comforter

trips to the local conservatory (it's warm & humid & filled with living green things, which is really wonderful in early February)

a programmable thermostat so that the house is warm by the time I have to get out of bed in the morning
posted by belladonna at 4:48 PM on November 1, 2006


everyone's suggestion are on-point. years ago, i learned that if you try to stop thinking about how cold you are all the time, you'll feel less cold. mind over matter.
posted by gnutron at 5:48 PM on November 1, 2006


Organize a weekly potluck with a few friends. It'll give you a reason to cook and to get out of house, and will be something to look forward to each week -- all things crucial for surviving the winter.
posted by verysleeping at 7:49 PM on November 1, 2006


Granted, Sydney winters are nearly as cold as anything (ie. there are -very- few days where it is unbearably cold and most of the time all you need are jeans, tee and jumper, but I always find that standing in the sun (if there are no clouds, that is) does wonders for your mood. Even if it is just that little bit creeping through the clouds. It's an awesome mood booster.
posted by cholly at 8:28 PM on November 1, 2006


Nothing allows me to tune out the cold and snow easier than breathing in warm air exhaled by a new friend.

Find yourself a carefree, naked companion. Become lost in the study of her hand as it starts out cold and uncertain, laps discovery and vulnerability, and settles, warm and committed, over your spooned shoulder.

Be for her what she is for you and it'll be a different sunlight that finds you in the morning.

Of course, feel free to change the pronoun if that's your preference.
posted by dobbs at 10:31 PM on November 1, 2006 [2 favorites]


My winter "uniform" includes a tank top instead of a bra, a long-sleeve silk undershirt, and some top layer. I find that covering my belly makes a big difference in my cold tolerance (hence the tanktop), and the silk is a soft and thin layer that provides a lot of warmth. Even better, I'm less likely to overheat in the silk overshirt than in a comparable-warmth-outside cotton or fleecy shirt once I come inside.

But the real difference for me has come from the scarf. It means I don't have to pull out the serious coat except for extended time outdoors. Even an open-weave cotton one keeps me quite comfortable walking across campus in the cold. A teacher of mine who was a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine called it "covering your wind gates".
posted by olecranon at 10:51 PM on November 1, 2006


I grew up in east Kansas, not far from where your profile puts you, mustcatchmooseandsquirrel, in Lawrence, unless you're just spoofing us with the Google Earth default starting position. But because of your previous posts, and for the sake of this comment, let's assume you're not.

What folks who haven't spent time on the Great Plains fail to understand is that The. Wind. Never. Stops.

Never.

It's always blowing 10mph, from some direction. Usually, it's gusting to 20 or 25, from the cold, dry West. That's air that has dumped any water it ever had on the Western Rockies, gave up any heat it had to space over eastern Colorado and western Nebraska and Kansas, and is headed for a party with warmer air on the East coast, or at least in the Missouri or Mississippi River valleys, and if it makes you miserable on the way, look, it's nothing personal.

It is miserably cold and windy in northeastern Kansas in January. There are few hills for skiing, unless you head for Denver, although they do try in Lawrence, any time there is a dusting. You can go ice skating, if you don't mind the wind. If it snows enough, and you can still truck down to K.C. for the day, the Country Club Plaza is great. And Kansas is finally, sort of, not a dry state. Except that it still is dry, city and county, by city and county. So, you've got to know your local option, for the whiskey suggestions upthread to mean much. But if you can get it (and in Lawrence, you can), drink it, if that's your thing! Tea is good, too, in winter time, in a dark and windy place. Teas, and the little rituals of taking care of yourself that go with them, can keep you sane, and coffee can keep you awake. Don't succumb to comfort foods, though, as they don't solve anything. Trust me.

But there is another secret to surviving Kansas winters, that is easily overlooked. And that is, Kansas people. No, really.

The Grange meetings are better attended in January and February. [You probably don't even know what Grange is, if you're a college student in Lawrence. It's people trying to survive winter together.] The church pews are more filled from Christmas to Easter than they are the whole rest of the year. The high school basketball games are taken hella seriously, because everybody goes. And the Lions, the Jaycees, the Rotarians, and all the other service clubs do land office business at breakfast meetings in every town around the state, as people gather to ward off cabin fever.

You should go. No, really. Just to see. They make some great coffee, and they smile at newcomers.

It's important to wear a hat in eastern Kansas in the winter. Ear muffs won't cut it. Scarfs are good, especially nice woolen ones, but you want a real hat, always. Not a knitted tam, or a watch cap, but a hat. You'll be miserable if you catch cold, so keep your hair dryer handy.

But mostly, it's people that get you through a windy, dark, cold Kansas winter. So, you want to smile at everyone, and be nice to strangers, and take their invitations, and need them a little, so they'll need you, too.
posted by paulsc at 12:00 AM on November 2, 2006


Make friends with Old Man Winter. I grew up in Texas and never really knew the guy...until moving to NY/NJ and now Montreal. Winter gives you a peek at things you don't get to see at any other time. Walk a dog or yourself (bundled appropropriately, of course). Look at how people and animals create paths, where they take shortcuts. And then another snow creates a new surface and it begins again. Also, check out where the birds nest in the now bare trees. So much to see! Like interesting ice things. The first year I moved to Montreal, I started photo documenting snow-people. Outdoor temporary environmental sculpture! Yea! Winter ain't so bad after all!

As others have said, it is also important to band together indoors for warmth and companionship. Have friends over for dinner. Brew up the chai. Explore the range of winter holiday party opportunities (Solstice!, Chinese New Year!).

If you are cheap and/or energy-conscious, go to the dollar store, get some mittens and cut the fingers off. Wear inside when you feel chilled.

(apologies for the self links, but I really do love winter)
(note to self: refer to this post in February)
posted by tingting at 7:48 AM on November 2, 2006


I'm not really sure why everyone is suggesting to emphatically to get all these really warm clothes to wear all the time as if their houses always get really cold.

I mean, if have a thermostat you're house should just stay the same temperature all the time. I wear shorts all the time. I mean, the only time you really have to go outside it walking from your house to the car, and from the car to work and back. If you're planning on being outside for longer, yes, by all means wear a jacket and toque and then you still don't have to worry about being cold.

I just do all the same things that I would do any other time of the year, then it doesn't actually make a difference what season it is. I like going camping in the summer, so it makes sense that it would be just as fun in the winter too (it is, I go every Christmas). I like to play ultimate frisbee so we still get together and play ultimate frisbee. Just decide for yourself that you're not going to sacrifice what you like to do just because of the weather and it doesn't become a big deal.

(I should likely explain I live in Saskatchewan, Canada (the "toque" suggestion probably gave it away))
posted by sirsteven at 8:55 PM on November 2, 2006


Move to SoCal. Ok, maybe not so inexpensive.
posted by Manjusri at 9:42 PM on November 2, 2006


I'm not really sure why everyone is suggesting to emphatically to get all these really warm clothes to wear all the time as if their houses always get really cold.

I mean, if have a thermostat you're house should just stay the same temperature all the time.


Because heating fuel is freakin' expensive?
posted by desuetude at 6:06 AM on November 3, 2006


Sign up for salsa or tango lessons!
posted by thinkpiece at 9:04 AM on November 3, 2006


I cannot emphasize this enough - WEAR A HAT!

Also, get outside and enjoy the cold. Ice skating is free and fun. The more you get outside - dressed warmly - the more your body will adjust to the cold and the faster winter will go.
posted by spacewaitress at 12:52 PM on November 3, 2006


First:

1. Go sledding and skiing as often as you can.

2. Look forward to the coming spring, and that wonderful relief you feel -- and that nobody who moves to the southwest as I have ever, ever feels.

3. Make a snowman a week. Make each one a little bigger, and doing something odd. Place them in strange places.

4. Get invited to parties, or throw your own, in the dead of winter. There's nothing better than slogging through a dreary cold night, getting to a lit-up house, opening the door, and feeling the rush of heat as you see your friends all running around drunk and in sweaters.
posted by davejay at 2:33 PM on November 3, 2006


Toddies! And buy one of those hot pots and bring a batch to your friend's house. Hot chocolate, baileys and rumplemintz. Spiced cider, spiced rum, and cinnamon sticks. A crockpot full of savory soup, on low, all day . And buy the good kind of fleece, not that polyester crap they shove at you, but loverly on yer bum cotton. Oh yeah, and jersey sheets. And let your dog sleep on your feet. And if you have a fireplace and never use it there is really something wrong with you. Did I forget to mention Barry White? Listen to Barry White by the fireplace while drinking a toddy with somebody special. Unless you are underaged or already pregnant.
posted by SMELLSLIKEFUN at 4:44 PM on November 3, 2006


Set your alarm a little early every morning, just so that you can wake up and cuddle up to your hefty comforter (or extra body if you're lucky.) Give yourself the time to be warm in your bed even as cold as it is outside it, and think about the things you never give yourself the time to think about otherwise.

Invest in a British Towel Warmer. They're not expensive, and after you get out of your shower or bath (I prefer a bath for the winter) you've got a warm towel waiting for you.

Get the gloves, the hat, the long underwear, and most importantly, the scarf. It's not just that you'll be warmer walking from place to place, but you'll have the winter ritual all your own when putting them on and walking outside feeling cozy against the harsh cold. (And for all the doubters, Kansas winter is very harsh. I survived a few harsh Oklahoma winters, and Kansas is worse.)

Set your iPod or whatever to music that just sounds "cold," but makes you happy anyway. Postal Service is a good start, but you'll find your own thing. If you ever drive, you want to drive with your windows down, your heat turned all the way up, and your music loud. It might be incredibly wasteful, but it helps you appreciate the season.

Make a snow angel. Better if with family or lover.

Frequent a bar or other establishment with a fireplace and good hot drinks. If you don't have an SO already, you can easily meet one while cozying up in front of a warm flame. If you do, bring them there. In any case, half the fun of winter is comisserating, and you need a group of friends in order to do that. One of my favorite memories of winter is of myself and two friends waling home to Washing ton Square in NYC, freezing our asses off. Literally a half block away from our dorm, we couldn't take it anymore and stopped for five minutes over a laundary room grate spouting warm air underneath us. It was awesome. Friends are the number one thing to make winter something great.

Set up a week or even just a weekend to go skiiing, or at least spend time in the mountains. I mean come on - you're a day's drive from the Colorado rocky mountains. Make the most of it. It'll make winter seem appropriate and gorgeous. Crested Butte is a good choice, as it has some of the best food and warmest people you'll ever encounter.

Seriously, the food in Crested Butte is some of the best I've ever had in all my world travels. They even found a way to make fried chicken gourmet. I live in NYC and when I go to CB, my first thought is about the food.

Embrace the mellancholy. There's something to it, and you need it. Remember that it isn't necessarily sad, but just wistful.

Again, fall in love if you aren't already. Hugging somebody on the street is somehow so much sweeter if you're both in heavy coats. I know that this one might seem unnattainable, but if you can use the other tips to reverse your winter outlook, you're already halfway there. It's worth it, and makes everything seem picaresque.

Read, as much as you can.

Crush the ice that forms over the puddles with your foot.

Watch comedies, and then watch something that you know will make you cry.

Have snowball fights with passing children.

Drink hot chocolate.

And if all of this fails, move to L.A. It's a better town than people give it credit for, and you never have to deal with temperatures below 50 degrees.

I'm serious about that. If you're single, then there's really no reason not to, unless you're in agriculture. Otherwise, you can almost certainly find your same career in a place that's warm year-round. If you've got family and friends (or just one or the other) then winter is your chance to spend all the time you've got with them, playing cards, drinking hot toddies or hot chocolate, and just generally socially huddling together to protect yourselves from the cold.

I offer an anecdote. Years ago, I was getting my first (and only) tattoo. Shortly through the process, the artist yelled at me to stop shaking, and forced me to stop clinching the hand of the girl who had come as moral support. It hurt like hell, but after a minute I made the decision that this was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I should feel it, by god. And once I decided to let myself feel it, it was amazing. I don't want another tattoo, but I wish I could feel that again. Don;t shun winter. Let yourself feel it. It can be amazing if you let it.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:28 AM on November 4, 2006 [2 favorites]


If you like movies and there's a decent theater nearby, fall and early winter is when all the best reviewed movies are released. For me there's very little a double feature and a large popcorn can't cure.
posted by tula at 10:24 AM on November 6, 2006


If your commute involves walking (or otherwise potential wet/cold feet), keep a pack of socks in a drawer/closet at work. Dry feet make cold more bearable.

also: counter-vacation!: winter flights to Iceland can be pretty cheap, and will make Kansas feel more tropical.
posted by arialblack at 3:51 PM on November 6, 2006


go skiing?
posted by Gankmore at 9:32 AM on November 7, 2006


4thing (or whatever it is) the skiing. Seriously - as mentioned, you're a hop skip jump over to the Rockies, arguably the best skiing in the nation. If I didn't live in NYC I would live in Colorado or Wyoming, hands down.

Whether its skiing or snowboarding, I can promise you that if you pick it up, take a few lessons, learn how to do it safe and enjoyably, you'll find that:

A) Its excellent exercise - to the point of all the "go exercise" people, its hard to be cold when your heart-rate and metabolism are running high.

B) Its not always as brutal cold as you would imagine - lots of great late winter sunny days to be had on the slopes.

C) Its totally social and a great way to meet people.

D) There's plenty of great apres ski events/locales/venues that offer all kinds of warmth-designed activities/foods/drinks etc..

E) If you're smart about it, its really not *that* expensive. Pick up some season-old gear at a Play-It-Again sports, carpool with friends and split hotel rooms, look for multi-pass deals, etc..
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:43 PM on November 11, 2006


Move to Southern California. It will solve your problem. Trust me.
posted by MythMaker at 1:49 PM on November 13, 2006


Put some reggae/dub on your iPod.
Also, Martin Denny will transform your room into a Tiki Hut in the dead of winter.
posted by hellbient at 9:56 PM on November 13, 2006


Jonathan Coulton's First of May
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 6:45 PM on November 16, 2006


2nding the move suggestion (though I'm no fan of SoCal). There are lots of tricks for surviving winter without depression, but they don't work for me.

Everyone has mentioned many of the "bonuses" of winter, but I don't like them. Exercise is a good idea, but if you're asthmatic (as many people are now), it's very hard to breath in cold weather when exercising vigorously.

If you don't like cold weather (or don't love your hometown in spite of it), make a plan to get a job in a warmer climate and move. It's not possible for everyone because of family obligations, but you will eventually be much happier, imo.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:39 PM on December 7, 2006


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