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The Down Side of the Hill: The Great Winter Debate

Winter wonderland -- to love it, leave it or wait it out. That's the question. To stay and suffer the pelting sleet, frozen streets -- the sun's defeat against the gathering of clouds bringing months of overcast skies? Or to pack it in, pack my b...

Winter wonderland - to love it, leave it or wait it out. That's the question.

To stay and suffer the pelting sleet, frozen streets - the sun's defeat against the gathering of clouds bringing months of overcast skies? Or to pack it in, pack my bags and send my winter blues packing? Do I hunker down, or hit the road?

It's come to a compromise this winter. The hubs and I are going road-tripping for about six weeks, minus the home-away-from-home on wheels. We're freestyling, meandering our way along the blue highways to the sunny, southwest desert and back again.

Given the colder than normal temperatures we've been experiencing, this adventure can't start too soon for me; but for Christmas and the grandkids we'd already be on our way. Yet, here I am still, bombarded like the loser in snowball fight, being pummeled with cheery advice for embracing the season by the winter wonderland worshippers.

You know who I mean, the red-nosed, rosy cheeked stalwarts frothing at the bit to get out in the bracing, fresh air. The hardy, jolly spirits who can't wait to enjoy all the beauty of winter's stark contrasts, like bare-naked trees standing frozen stiff against sparkling snow, or children in brightly colored clothing waddling and fro.

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The winter cheerleaders are happy to strap blades, skis, or snowshoes to their feet and skate, glide, or trek though the elements. Meanwhile, I'm just trying to stay upright until I head south; the older you are, the harder to get up all in one piece. I don't want any mishaps canceling my escape.

Still, my well-meaning friends continue to lob their advice bombs.

"You'd feel better if you got some fresh air."

"It's not cold outside if you're dressed properly."

"Just try some outdoor activities. You'll see - you'll have fun!"

"If you don't find something to like about winter, you'll only be miserable the whole time."

Why is it, that I never hear similar Pollyanna platitudes in the middle of summer, when the heat and humidity is hanging around like a heavy coat? How would it be received if I suggested:

• "You'd feel better if you just got out of this air-conditioned building and smelled the roses."

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• "Dress in light fabrics, sit in the shade and sip a cool drink."

• "Take up swimming, or go kayaking. Try hiking in the woods and enjoy the beauty of nature."

Yes, yes, I know the argument - you can only undress so much to tolerate the heat, but you can always put on more clothes to endure the cold. I'm feeling there is a basic flaw in that premise.

Here in the Northland, there isn't a summer day or night that I could spend outdoors with no shelter and nothing but a bottle of water to drink, and not survive. There are plenty of winter days that would kill me, no matter how many layers I might pile on.

And for the record, there are actually quite a few things I like about winter. Escaping it would be top on the list - who doesn't love a vacation? When that doesn't happen, I like staying indoors, where it's warm, where I'm warm.

I like sitting by my gas fireplace in my La-Z-Girl recliner. I like wearing my flannel loungewear all day (No, they're not pajamas. Yours are pajamas; mine are not pajamas). I like soft chenille socks and faux-fleece blankets.

I like catching up on my reading and writing. I like baking all day to keep the house even warmer. I like binge watching Netflix and Amazon Prime. I like cleaning my junk drawers and closets.

I like eggnog and Tom & Jerry batter, neither of which is available in the summer. I like napping by the fire, in my flannel loungewear, wearing my chenille socks, tucked under my faux-fleece blanket after I have an egg nog or Tom & Jerry drink - or two.

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Mostly, I like not going outside, not going anywhere for days on end. And, to make it clear to all those friends who may worry, I'm not depressed. I might be a little "SAD," but I just ordered one of those full spectrum lights for seasonal affective disorder, so that should help. You won't have to scheme ways to drag me and my retinas outside to get some light.

By the way, I'd like to remind all of you Winter Wonderlanders that big bears with thick fur and layers of fat to keep them warm hibernate through the cold. Nobody tells them they should just get over it and learn to love winter. So cut me a break for the next few weeks, OK?

Judith Liebaert writes for Positively Superior and the Duluthian. She is the author of "Sins Of The Fathers," a crime novel set in Superior and inspired by a true cold case. Find her online at judithliebaert.com.

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