VIOLA - Based on the statewide average temperatures, Wisconsin ranks number eight on the list of the ten coldest states. In winter, our state moves into fifth place. In summer, we drop out of the top ten. But this should be no surprise to a Wisconsin native.
Writing a ‘Tips for Enjoying Winter More’ column is risky. Either you’re preaching to the choir or you could end up with a snowball down your shirt from people who despise winter as much as they hate seeing their favorite sports team lose.
Since I've never sung in a choir, nor do I have a favorite sports team, I'll take my chances.
1. Turn on your indoor lights the minute you get home from work or you feel the daylight begin to fade. A brighter house will do wonders for your sanity during the darkest days of the year. If you're lucky, it will even keep you from crawling under the covers at 5 p.m. and yelling Good night!If you are worried about the electric bill, light a few hundred candles.
2. This is the perfect time of year to adopt a dog or a cat from your local humane society. Having a new furry friend to care for and play with will lift your spirits. Winter will zoom by as you stay busy, taking your puppy for walks or cuddling a new kitty on your lap.
3. Invest in warm socks and a good pair of slippers. Learn how to layer your clothing. Wear your favorite knit hat in the house during the colder months. Refuse to take it off until springtime. The heck with your hair—your head will feel cozy.
4. Gather up all the books you’ve been meaning to read, and start reading. Keep a running list of books you finish. Jot a few notes so you’ll remember later what you liked or didn’t like about each. Reading can lift you out of winter as you travel in your mind, experience new cultures, solve a mystery, or learn some history.
5. Commit to purchasing fresh flowers monthly. The local florist would be happy to put together a colorful bouquet for you. If you change the water and trim the stems weekly, your flowers will stay fresh and lovely. A small price to pay for a little joy and color during the coldest months of the year.
6. Look through your local paper, listen to your favorite local radio station, or scroll social media for announcements about plays, benefits, live music, trivia nights, book readings, art shows, or any event that catches your interest. Mark them on your calendar. Having something to attend forces you to ditch your winter hat, wash your hair, and get spruced up. Healthy and fun!
7. Speaking of washing, treat yourself to a weekly Epsom salts and lavender oil bath. Nothing can compare to a lazy soak in the tub, followed by slathering your winter-dried skin in a pleasant-smelling lotion. Treating yourself to a quiet, uninterrupted bath may be as close as we can get to feeling the peace of heaven.
8. Create rice packs. Buy some cheap socks from the dollar store, fill them with rice, and tie a knot. Before bed, microwave for a few minutes. Toss the heated sock-packs under your covers, or place them down near your feet.
9. Plan for the warmer months. What can be better than poring through your seed catalogs and taking notes for your garden? How about settling in with the McMurray Hatchery catalog in front of the wood stove to decide what poultry or water fowl you’ll add to your flock? Using wintertime to plan your summer or fall vacations is a trip in itself! All those colorful brochures are almost as good as the feeling of wearing your flip-flops and shorts.
10. Start writing your life story or the next Pulitzer Prize–winning novel. All you need are paper, a pen, and the willingness to express yourself with no judgment. Just keep writing every single day, and before you know it, the grass will be turning green.
11. Bundle up and take an early morning or evening walk. Nature is one of the greatest healers of all time. Hoarfrost, a fresh snowfall, or an eagle sighting will make any day better, winter or not. Make it a point to get outside daily. Keep a list of all the eagles you see!
12. Reach out: call your neighbor, send a care package to a friend who’s ill, or find a pen pal. Winter is the perfect time of year to spread some warmth and kindness.
13. And lest we forget Wisconsin’s all-time favorite winter sports: go sledding, ice skating, skiing, snowshoeing, or even bowling!
I've only scratched the tip of the iceberg here. Playing board games, like Rummikub or Scrabble, renting a movie or watching one online, scheduling a monthly pizza night with friends, keeping a daily gratitude list, taking up a new hobby, or even reorganizing all your drawers and cupboards are all worthy Wisconsin winter activities.Above all, if you’re living in Wisconsin and not a fan of winter, be thankful you’re not in Alaska. Alaska ranks number one for the average coldest state—in winter andin summer. That knowledge oughta warm you up!