Cold Weather Survival Tips

Winter is coming. No, not on Game of Thrones. Actual New England winter is on its way. The Farmer’s Almanac says it is going to be a snowy one this year! Some people anxiously await the season (you know the type). But for most of us, winter means short, dark days, shoveling and chill you to the bone temperatures. Sounds fun, huh? Not to me!

As the days get shorter and shorter, I find myself dreading this time of year. I can take the cold. I can even take the snow. But for me, it’s the dark that I can’t stand. While most people are out enjoying the mild fall weather and beautiful leaves, I can’t help but notice that the sun is waning. Soon, we will get up in the dark and leave work in the dark. Even though it only lasts a few months, sometimes I just want to curl up and hibernate with the bears!

Sounds foreboding doesn’t it? It’s not all bad though. Winter brings Thanksgiving and Christmas, which usually means family gatherings and celebrations. Sometimes the holidays can get overblown (like when the Christmas decorations come out in September!), but these celebrations also give us something to look forward to, and something to do. That gets us through to the end of the year, but then the darkest months in January and February arrive. What do you do then?

This year, I took a look around and wondered if I could find any other ways to survive the long New England winter. The answer came in a surprising way. Way back in the spring, I went to a planting party. A lot like the type where a big group paints a picture, but this time we all created a miniature landscape. I had a lot of fun. I brought my creation to work and got lots of positive comments. Then, I forgot about it. You see, I have a brown thumb! My mother was always able to keep beautiful plants, but not me. I have killed numerous plants including a lucky bamboo, money tree and even a cactus!

This time it was a little different. My plant creation contained succulents. Even my husband was surprised when, after a few weeks, I had not managed to kill it yet. I loved the look of the succulents. They reminded me of beautiful little mandalas. They also happen to be hardy little plants.

I’m not sure what changed. Maybe I’m a little older and better able to care for plants. Maybe I was never really that interested in them before. But now, I find my fascination growing. Slowly, I began to accumulate more succulents. After I kept them alive for a few months, I ventured into other types of plants like violets and ivy. My collection grew and grew.

These simple little living things began to shift my thinking. Before plants, almost every window in my house was closed with the shade down. My husband liked it that way. But, as I slowly grew my collection, I was able to open more shades and let the light in. This seemed to be a reasonable compromise. I consider that a win.

I noticed that plants grow in their own time and don’t worry about the day to day craziness that we pile on ourselves. This got me to slow down and appreciate the moment a little more. When I am around them, I just feel calmer. That is just one of the numerous benefits plants provide. Not only do they bolster our mood, but they also clean the air. The effect may be small at first, but it makes me feel good to know that I am doing something positive for my health.

Eventually, I tried to propagate some of the succulents. I was only partially successful on my first attempt, but the few that began to grow gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment. Now, winter is coming and my small plant collection is giving me some new hope. Everything outside will soon be white, but I will still have a bit of green at home to look forward to at the end of a long day.

Adding a little green to my life has also given me a renewed interest in sprucing up my house. It seems odd, but having a few living things has made me more aware of my surroundings. Slowly, but surely, I have started to take ownership of my environment. I had my house painted and started trying to simplify my living space. The change is subtle, but noticeable.

It amazes me how a few small plants have shifted my mindset. I’m not sure how it all happened or why, but I am going to go with it. If it helps me to get through the long winter months, I’m all in!

Plants can be an inexpensive pick-me-up. Taking on a hobby is a great way to pass the time. Eventually, you may even find a way to turn that hobby into a small business. I know that for me, the next step is using my creativity to update the pots my plants came in to create a new look!

Do you have a hobby? Comment below with your stories and suggestions.

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