Welcome everyone to 2016! I hope that everyone had a wonderful celebration last night, however you chose to ring in the New Year, and that any hangovers you are nursing won’t be too painful.
Now that the celebration is over and the noisemakers and party hats have been put away, we now have to face three long months of winter without much going on until St. Patrick’s Day. So how do we get through this prolonged period of down time? In a 1981 Chicago Sun-Times column, columnist Mike Royko had a number of suggestions — drinking, brooding, writing hate letters, holding someone hostage, etc. But I’d like to suggest a few things that are more productive and won’t harm anyone.
Grow something. Yes, it is possible. There are some wonderfully tasty vegetables you can grow indoors. You can buy a sprouter, some sprouting seeds, and grow large quantities of sprouts. Sprouts are easy to grow, add a tasty crunch to your sandwich or salad, and provide lots of beneficial micronutrients. You can also grow microgreens, another easy to grow vegetable that produces tasty and nutritious plant material to nourish your body. Lastly, you can purchase a mushroom growing kit and grow your own mushrooms. If you’ve never done it before, it is a lot of fun. And there are a wide variety of mushrooms you can grow indoors — Portabella, Shitake, Lion’s Mane, and oyster to mention a few.
Clean house. Why wait for spring? Why not start the new year with a sparkling, organized, clean-enough-to-eat-off-the-floor-and-lick-up-the-crumbs house?If it’s too cold, snowy, and miserable to go outdoors, why not put all that excess energy to use, and throw away all of the clutter you accumulated last year? Best of all, nothing says you have to do it all in one day, one week, or even in one month. There will be plenty of cold miserable days not fit for man nor beast over these next three months that will give you lots of opportunities to swab your dwelling.
Write letters. No not the hateful kind that Mike Royko suggested. I’m talking about real honest to goodness pen and ink correspondence where you share your life’s happenings with friends and family and ask them about theirs. So few people write real letters anymore, that I can almost guarantee that they will be treasured and appreciated by their recipients. And I don’t care how pervasive and efficient electronic communication is. Nothing, but nothing, will ever replace a true pen and ink letter. Letters have heart and mingle souls. Can you honestly say that about a tweet?
Start a hobby. It doesn’t matter whether it’s stamp collecting, coin collecting, photography, jigsaw puzzles, or anything else. When you’re thoroughly engrossed in the activities that please you, you won’t have time to notice how cold or how snowy it is. And then one day you’ll look up from your stamps, coins, pictures, puzzles, or whatever else you’ve chosen and you’ll realize that it’s just a little bit warmer and a little bit sunnier outside.
Plan out this year’s garden. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Nothing chases away the winter blues faster than dreaming about and planning out all the crunchy, sweet, and juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, and everything else you plan to grow. By now, you’ve had lots of gardening catalogs fill your mailbox. Why wait until spring? Why not start right now? The winter blues will be a bit less bluer, and you’ll have a head start on your garden by the time spring eventually rolls around.
The three months of winter can be chilly and miserable, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By finding enjoyable activities to occupy your time, you can ease winter’s frosty sting and make these three blah moths pass by a little quicker.