Sunday, January 08, 2006

Winter Survival Skills

At this juncture of early winter, survival through the cold and dark is paramount and many tools make themselves apparent: increased antidepressant dose, woodstove, movies, red wine (mostly Merlot, thank you), wool socks, winter stews, time with my love, cozy nights with friends.

In previous years, a January trip to Jamaica to do humanitarian work was a nice escape, but this year the wallet does not allow such largesse. Just last winter, we pulled off a ten-day trip to Mexico to visit friends, but that now seems like a dream. This winter, I'm currently assuaging my winter blues with a long succession of three-day weekends. Beginning with the day after Christmas, I'm in the midst of enjoying the third of four consecutive Mondays home from work, elongating the weekend and tripling the enjoyment of that priceless gift from the Labor Movement, the weekend.

Living and working in a climate where winter can weigh upon one with snow and bitter damp cold, wherein driving is hazardous and walking the dogs on ice-bound streets a comedy of errors, every little adjustment one can make has the potential to improve one's quality of life. Cheap little crampons which I tie to my shoes (thanks to Mary) improve my walking traction, and layers of fleece diminish the bite of the wind.

As far as work, I limit my outreach and home visits (something completely under my control), make hazelnut coffee in the office kitchen every morning , and do as little slipping and sliding on the city streets as I can manage.

Survival is the name of the game, no doubt, and the impatiently awaited riot of Spring continues to add to the sense that relief is only around the wintry corner. Curse the winter as we may, but its harshness and length only sweeten the honey-pot of Spring and the heady cauldron of summer.

That said, now's the time to don layers and ambulate the canines through a freshly fallen snow, covering the land like a whisper.
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