Human Interest

On winter, hibernation, black ice and closeness

Goldfish pond

Goldfish pond (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though it’s cold and icy outdoors, I can feel winter slipping away. I enjoy winter if only because everyone else despises it so in cold weather climates.

People wish they were in Florida when it’s cold out but these are the same people who I suggest should just wish for some patience. If you are fortunate to live in a place where there are four seasons with corresponding weather for each season, you’ll feel as I do sometimes, depending on your favorite season.

“I wish this weather would stay like this all summer,” proclaims Jenny, as she chats with a friend at Starbucks under an umbrella.

I see the lack of activity outdoors brought on by cold weather and silently hope for prolonged cold and snow so that I might continue to enjoy the stillness on days like today. Yesterday and even today, people should have been outdoors. Their walkways and driveways needed shoveling and ice break up. I was pretty much the only one doing these things yesterday. And as far as I can tell today, most of my neighbors are counting on the solar snow removal plan to make their walkways safe to be on again.

Could it be that other residents secretly don’t want winter to end? Could be. But I suspect it’s just plain laziness. There is no municipal mandate to shovel our walkways here like in some other places in the country. Just the same, I wish people would clear their walkways to make them safer. Taking a fall after slipping on ice is no fun and can ruin your day, week, months and sometimes years ahead when you do.

There are other activities that one can enjoy during winter. You can even look ahead to spring by doing things like hammering away ice in your goldfish pond (as I did this morning). We had gotten down to single digits and in order to make sure the fish survive, I took a hammer to the ice which was pretty thick but had not frozen quite all the way through; if it had, our little fishes would not have made it to swim in spring. Amazingly, all they need is a little consideration and some TLC by someone who knows if their home freezes all the way to the bottom of the pond, they are done for.

A street plow in Quebec City, Canada

A street plow in Quebec City, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As lazy as I want to get on days like today, I understand it’s not all about me. A person still needs to put others above themselves if they want to enjoy a good life. But the key to giving that way is to have zero expectations that it will be reciprocated. If one is worried about getting “theirs” for having given to others, they aren’t giving correctly.

Laziness may be a selfish act, but when you have down time, your mind and body doesn’t recognize it that way. Down time is best enjoyed during the winter. People get sick in winter because yes, they are indoors more and germs are passed around as easily as a bag of chips, but they are also trying to maintain the same levels of activity they have in the spring, summer and fall. This is where the problems begin.

I think it is natural to want to hibernate as much as possible in the winter. It is also healthy to do so. If you aren’t trying to run or bicycle 10 miles on black ice, you’ll be less likely to take a spill that puts you out of commission for a while. Body parts, like a baseball pitcher’s arm, only have so many repetitions before they break down. No amount of proper nutrition or exercise changes this. No amount of pills or vitamins or supplements do, either. While rest helps you maintain and recover so as not to age as fast, shutting it down entirely, if not decreasing your activity by half in the winter time, is what can help maximize the rest you do receive.

When it’s cold outside and you feel it in your bones, resist the urge to suck it up and go punish your body outdoors. There are much more fun things to do indoors when it’s like this such as taking a nap while tucked warmly under a blanket, or watching a movie with a cup of hot tea and some popcorn (before falling asleep under said blanket before the movie ends).

If you must be active indoors, get your house in order. Clean out the chimney of ashes, do the dishes or take a warm shower, or a bath, if you’re a bath person. And if you have a special person, be close with them and enjoy them next to you. This is the best winter activity of all. And if they haven’t already done so, studies will one day prove that doing this will add many quality years to your life—much more so than any supplement, vitamin or 10-mile run on black ice ever will.



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