Finding balance this winter, by Leslie Bek

Finding balance this winter
It’s that time; the winter season, U.P. style. A time some have waited for with great expectation and excitement; a time others dread, when they hang their collective heads like Winnie the Pooh’s pal Eeyore. Some folks just say the heck with it and head south, staying until they feel it’s safe to come home and open the windows again. They say they have put in their time; they can’t take the winters anymore. The challenge is to find balance.
The first day of the winter season in the northern hemisphere is when the Sun is furthest south, which varies from December 20 to 23. This day is known as the Winter Solstice.
The first day of Spring is the day of the year when the Sun crosses the celestial equator moving northward (varies annually March 20 or 21). This day is known as the Vernal Equinox.
The math indicates there are ninety days in a northern hemisphere winter season. Obviously, precipitation and temperature have nothing to do with this equation or our local season might start an additional thirty days earlier when the thermometer first reads below freezing. Perhaps we have what should be called a “pre-winter season” from November 15 through December 21, and a “post-winter season” from March 21 through April 15. That might be a bit generous.
In this region, we judge our winter season by looking out the window and by the feeling in our bones. We call our friends to the west, south and east in a fifty-mile radius and ask “How does it look?” and then hold an ungloved finger to the wind. Winter is not officially over until that last good spring snowstorm passes through, many months from now.
The winter season, U.P. style, can be a blessing and a curse. Wonder at the beauty of the powdery, fluffy snowflakes or curse the white-out conditions. Be thankful that if it’s going to be cold, at least we have more than 200 inches of snow to play on. There is awe in watching the changing surge and bergs on Lake Superior. Beware when the wind changes direction; one never knows what effect Superior has in store.

Celebrate! Don’t Hibernate!
I recall U.P. native and local year-round outdoor enthusiast Frida Waara coining the phrase, “Celebrate! Don’t Hibernate!” I like where she was coming from.
Make winter your time to play; don’t curl up in your den not to be seen until the icicles begin to drip. Celebrate; be glad your unfinished fall yard work is now blanketed in snow cover. Hooray, good-bye rake and hello skis.
This winter-wise message is not going to be about exercise. I believe many people have a hearing loss reaction to the word exercise. It is about staying active. Now active sounds doable even in winter. Keeping your body and your mind active are positives as we strive to maintain a healthy balance during our winter season.
You will be amazed at what positive things your body chemistry can do if you keep active during darker days. Winter weather can force you to stay inside one day and draw you out to play the next.
We need to stay in balance and be ready to change plans as quickly as the wind blows.
Keep your mind and your spirit active by staying connected with people. Embrace yourself with personal renewal time. Nature is at rest for a reason and so should we be.
Make time for some respite. Read a book, visit museums, draw, paint, listen to music and play music. Slow down, but don’t hibernate.
It’s the winter season, U.P. style. Where else can you buy remote car starters or heaters for your car seats? Where else do people tell you in November, “Enjoy this 30° temperature, come February you’ll think this is t-shirt weather.”
Where else do you add half an hour to your travel time even if you are only going out for a gallon of milk?
It’s the winter season, U.P. style. Where else can you cross country ski, alpine ski, snowboard, snowshoe, ice fish, and skate? Where else can you see a play, act in a play, attend a concert, or visit an art gallery?
O.K. so you might find another place; but then it wouldn’t be home. If you feel like a U.P. winter is your lemon, make lemonade or hot chocolate for that matter.
Check local event calendars for endless opportunities to stay active. It won’t be long and you will be celebrating the U.P. winter season and all that it has to offer. Leave the hibernating to Winnie the Pooh.
—Leslie Bek

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