Are you sick and tired of winter yet?

It’s January 26 and I’m getting sick and tired of winter.  Short Ontario days with limited sunshine, lots of snow, treacherous icy sidewalks and cold temperatures make outside activities difficult especially with my limited mobility after the hip surgery.

My beautiful leather boots are salt-stained.  My car resembles a big dirty ice-cube from driving around on the slushy streets and a trip to the car wash seems pointless especially when the door locks will likely be frozen before I get back to my garage.

Some of my friends have escaped to southern climes and I get emails from Sarasota, Trinidad, West Palm Beach, Chile and Barbados.  No sympathy from them — only stories of poolside activities, golf, sunburns, beach walks and lots of sunshine.

CBC, Sudoku, crossword puzzles and my stock of unread novels — all the daily diversions that have helped me to get through most of January have lost their charm and I find myself craving carbohydrates and feeling like a grumpy old woman. Have I complained enough for today?

It’s definitely time to plan an escape.  When the ultimate escape to a sunny Southern clime is not an option, here are some ideas to keep the winter doldrums at bay.

Escape to the Movies

The easiest plan of attack for the winter doldrums is an escape to the movies.  After hearing of the Oscar nominees, seeing both of the big contenders — The King’s Speech and The Social Network is on my agenda.  The movie buffs in my network of friends also recommend Barney’s Version and Black Swan.  After hearing Quebec director Denis Villeneuve interviewed I want to see his film Incendies which has received an Oscar nomination in the best foreign film category — the only Canadian film to receive a nomination.

Two or three hours in a movie theatre can change your perspective.  And you’ll have something to contribute when your friends discuss those amazing Academy decisions.

Take a Mini Vacation

You might not have the time or the money to vacation in the sun but  a mini-vacation will give a lift.  While visiting with friends over the weekend, we heard about their strategy of a four-day weekend getaway every month.  They had visited Quebec City in December to enjoy its history and had trekked to New York City in January (despite a snow storm) to enjoy some theatre and sight-seeing.  My neighbour has just returned from a three-day trip to a  lodge situated just North of Toronto.  After driving less than 100 miles she spent the days reading in front of a fire, eating gourmet meals, and indulging is spa treatments.  The bonus was that she had time for herself while her husband and children spent their days on the ski slopes.   The weekend activities satisfied everyone and they came home feeling invigorated and happy.

A short break will allow you to leave your usual routines.  An excursion to a new venue or a familiar refuge will offer a change of pace.  You can pamper yourself, find a great adventure, experience a meditative retreat or simply have fun away from home.  Renewal in a few short days.

Escape to Nature

An ordinary day becomes special when you can take some time in the outdoors.

Winter sports offer many  challenges and in years past I enjoyed many of them including skating, cross-country skiing and curling.  None of these are options this year as my body is still getting used to its new hip.

Recovery limitations leave few options for exercise except walking.  Walking may seem unpleasant when the temperature plummets below zero but a brisk invigorating walk helps to clear the cobwebs.   These days my slow pace has sharpened my capacity for observation and my limitations in terms of distance make me attend to the immediate environment of the back garden more carefully. The intricate structure of deciduous tress especially against the backdrop of a morning sky is beautiful in the winter when the branches are stark.  There are a few birds at the feeders along with the ravenous grey and black squirrels.  And a careful look at various shrubs and stems peeking through the snowbanks gives a new ideas for perennials to keep the garden interesting for all seasons.

And speaking of gardens……

This is the time  to plan for the upcoming gardening season.  If you  collect garden catalogues, you can lose yourself for hours in pages of these catalogues describing new varieties of plants and dreaming about your garden in bloom.  You can also think about what was successful last year and what mistakes you won’t repeat.

Last year my gardening success came from heirloom tomatoes.  I planted only 4 stalks — each a different variety.  The reward was a bounty of interesting tomatoes — green zebras remained green even when fully ripened, cherokee purples that were very sweet, a gigantic red variety than yielded interesting shapes and yellow pear tomatoes take could be eaten like candy.  I don’t know the botanical names but I take delight just thinking about planting these and other heirloom varieties as soon as spring arrives.

You might also find inspiration by visiting an indoor botanical garden if there is one near to you. Spending a day at the Toronto Botanical Garden is an excursion that delights the senses and stimulates the imagination — regardless of the temperature outdoors.  You can also sign up for a myriad of courses for gardening enthusiasts — both amateur and experienced.

Today I’ve offered four ideas for breaking the monotony of endless winter days and keeping you happy and energized during this dark season.  I’m sure you have your own postworksavvy favourites.  Enjoy!

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