My Guide To Surviving Winter

It’s still fall but we are flirting with winter weather here in southern Ohio. Please don’t stop reading when I say this but winter makes my heart happy.

Here’s why.

Winter feels like Nature’s way of telling me to slow down, to rest and to appreciate the small joys of my home. I’ve been unwittingly practicing the Norwegian art of Hygge for years!

For the other three seasons, if the weather is tolerable I feel compelled to be active from dawn to dusk. Whether it be on a hike or an adventure or just an errand, it feels like time spent at home could be better used.

Since the time change, I’ve begun to nest here in my house on the ridge. It started as decluttering, finally taking cardboard and plastic to recycling and then taking quick glances around each room for unneeded things.

The next thing I knew, each kitchen cabinet was being emptied and boxes and bags filled up to give away. Coats for a drive at work, tops my mother might like, dvds and a big meat cleaver for my dad (it seemed a bit much for the vegetable eater here)

Now attention has turned to making things cozy. First I dropped new wax melts into all my scent burners. Winter means a mix of cinnamon, citrus and pine. Then I began putting out heavier throws for winter couch cuddling and the flannel sheets were washed and put on the bed.

Winter means more movies on the couch and books in bed so I’ve begun a new stack of books I really want to read this winter. I also pulled out some new jigsaw puzzles. There’s nothing better than sitting by the window on a snowy day to work on a puzzle. Although Scout likely won’t allow this to happen this year. Kittens have other uses for small items like puzzle pieces.

There will still be adventures on weekends when weather permits. There’s nothing better than a fast hike in the cold unless it’s a slow hike in the snow where you can look for animal tracks and enjoy the shimmering beauty of a world blanketed in snow.

There will be more time spent in local antique malls. Winter is when I allow myself to shop for records so I’ll rush home to clean and listen to my treasures. Maybe this is the year I’ll find that mid century console record player I’ve been looking for. It has to work and has to have great mid century lines. I’ll find the one someday.

This winter I’m planning a jaunt to Cincinnati to the Freedom Center and maybe another to Dayton for the Packard Museum. There are some terrific antique malls in both cities as well as other museums to make me wonder if I shouldn’t make these overnights rather than a quick out and back. I will appreciate these adventures more because they will be less common and will prevent cabin fever from setting in.

While there will still be adventures this winter, the focus will be at home. I want to find a vegan hot chocolate recipe and work on some soups. I want to curl up with my cat to watch a movie or catch up on my magazine reading. I want to take hot baths and listen to good music.

For me, winter is about being cozy and making things beautiful. Since I live in the country, it’s also about making do and being happy with what you have, an exercise in gratitude if I’ve ever heard of one.

I am grateful for this period of rest and quiet. It’s what I need to recharge from months of busyness and to prepare me for months more of adventure and exploration.

So while everyone is miserable because of the cold, snow and dark, I will be as happy as if it were 75 degrees and sunny. And I think that’s petty cool.

Notes From the Field

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Most of my hiking trips are squeezed in between work and chores at home – usually no more than two or three miles in an evening. It’s usually enough to get some exercise and to make me want more time. Saturday morning’s goal was to get out for a longer hike in the Hocking Hills.

Evidently, that was everyone else’s goal too. Fall is a busy time at our local parks. It’s more or less the Smokys of the north so there were a lot of people, even in sections of the trail that normally are sparsely populated.

Here are a few notes from the field.

  • It’s funny how people behave differently in groups than they do alone. There were a number of groups – anywhere from three to fifty people – clumped together, talking and seemingly paying no mind to their surroundings. I was sad for them because there’s so much beauty to be enjoyed and not just visually. If you’re quiet, you can hear an orchestra of birds, the chatter of squirrels and leaves crunching underfoot. If you take a moment to breath deeply, you’ll notice how the turning leaves almost flavor the air and that sharp intake of a cool fall morning will give new life if you let it.
  • On the other hand, I’ve been seeing an uptick in people hiking alone. I’ve always seen men going it alone but there was a huge number of ladies out solo yesterday. A few had dogs but most were just alone and it made my heart happy to think that I’m not alone in my belief that you can’t wait for a partner to go out and live your life!
  • There was an unusual number of dogs off leash yesterday. You may love your pet but it’s alarming to see someone’s Great Dane barreling down the trail when you’re timid or afraid of strange dogs.
  • More people than normal appeared to be lost. I gave directions to several groups that had launched out without maps or any clue where they were going. If you know the area, offer to help. Most people are thrilled to have a little guidance.
  • Along those same lines, if you see someone taking a selfie, you may offer to take their picture. I noticed a woman struggling to get a selfie with her dog and thought she would cry when I offered to take their picture. She said they have few pictures together because they’re always alone. If you’re on vacation, you typically want some pictures of yourself in context or your entire group together. It takes just a minute to give this gift to a stranger.
  • The best thing I saw all day was a man helping a female companion along the trail. I thought that he was just being sweet until I got closer and realized that she was blind. Ironically, it made me think of those groups of people who seemed to be oblivious to their surroundings and I realized that this woman with visual impairment probably would absorb as much or more of her surroundings than those people did. It also made me happy to think that she’s not allowing anything to hold her back.

 

 

 

 

 

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Sometimes when you miss your goals, something even better happens.

The day we attempted to climb Laramie Peak and were forced out by a nasty storm, we encountered something we would’ve missed had we made it to the top.

We saw this beautiful rainbow. My friend Johnna took the above picture. It was exciting to see both ends and it was all the more impressive against the big Wyoming sky.

So while we hated not making that last mile up the mountain, this was a fantastic reward for the sacrifice. And it’s a timely reminder that when things don’t work out as we wish, we may be getting set up for something even better.

That missed job opportunity? There could be an even better career change waiting for you next year.

That broken heart? Maybe it taught you to be a better partner to someone else down the road. Maybe it taught you how not to hurt someone the way you were hurt.

That rain shower slowed us down and turned us around so we could see something truly spectacular and I am grateful. And I’m trying to be grateful for all the other stuff that I hope to someday learn were blessings in disguise.

Have a good day and go looking for what’s over the rainbow, my friends. You deserve it.

A Mile Shy Of Laramie Peak

One goal for my western adventure was to climb Laramie Peak. Once a landmark for weary travelers along the Oregon Trail, today it is a popular area for recreation as part of the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming.

There is a nice hiking trail up the 10,274 foot mountain and Johnna and I were stoked to climb it. It’s about five miles up so we set out with packs full of water and supplies but felt no sense of urgency as the forecast was for blue skies all day.

This was the view early in the day.

Laramie Peak rocks and sky.JPG

Lovely, isn’t it? The sky was blue and clear, punctuated with puffy white clouds that my friend calls “Simpson’s Clouds.” It was the perfect day for a long hike.

Around mile three, we started running into rain showers. Just a little drizzle but we could see that a dark cloud was settling over us.

storm cloud.JPG

At mile four, the sky turned ominous and the rain picked up.

And then came the wind: wind so powerful that it sounded like a train coming up the mountain and so strong that it could knock you over.

The terrain turns rockier as you near the top, making travel treacherous when the ground and rocks are wet. There’s no cell service here and we saw just one house in the vicinity after traveling for miles without seeing another living soul – even at the campground.

In other words, it would be a long, lonely trip down the mountain to run for help for your friend should someone get hurt. And the rescue undoubtedly would involve a helicopter ride.

We discussed continuing on with our journey and considered sheltering in place if we could find somewhere safe. We had seen a number of natural rock ledges and shelters along the way but none were in sight in that last leg of the journey.

Ultimately, we abandoned our plan and headed back down the mountain toward safety.

It was the right thing to do, even if we were disappointed to abandon our goal. But there will be other trips and other mountains. And we still got in an eight mile hike which isn’t too shabby.

It was a friendly reminder that plans don’t always work out and that sometimes circumstances simply get in the way. We made the best of the day anyway and celebrated eight miles rather than be sad we didn’t make it to ten.

That’s a pretty nice victory too!

 

 

Adventure Is On The Horizon

One of my favorite memories of all time involves a week spent with this gal last year. We hiked in Arches and Canyonlands national parks and had all sorts of fun adventures.

We’ll be up to some more shenanigans pretty soon and I’m sure to come home with fun stories and pictures to share.

Until then – Happy Wednesday, friends!