Ah, winter. This is the north, you know. It’s cold and it snows. Some of us like it. A lot of us don’t. I’m in the like-it category—the coziness, a fire in my fireplace and me with a good book, and the sounds of silence the snow brings.
I’m not the only one who likes winter. I hear from many readers that they like it too. One reader last year sent me photos of mountains of snow that he considered thrilling. I did too.
Those children (and a few adults) who were sliding down the hill on the Boston Common a couple of Sundays ago must like it too.
People who want a bit of calm should find winter welcome. September and October can be hectic with every organization making up for the lack of activity during the summer. The run-up to the holidays, when decorating days, holiday strolls and December parties crowd the calendar, are another hectic time. And April and May can make an active person bedraggled keeping up with the organizations who are all trying to get their missions accomplished before summer hits and everyone is presumed to be going away. January, February and March, by contrast, are more leisurely. Organizations are not frantic, and there are diversions—the Oscars, for example, and lots of laughs at the news: bizarre presidential candidates, new rattlesnakes on a Quabbin Reservoir island, MBTA follies, and arguments over an old bridge. You can’t make this stuff up.
The people who successfully thrive in winter employ coping strategies. One woman tries to meet as many friends as possible. A Back Bay couple said they go away for a week every January. Another woman enjoys counting the days until the Red Sox roll back into town.
A psychotherapist who has seen countless patients in this northern climate over the years, says she has observed that native New Englanders cope better than those coming from warmer climates. “Folks who cope well are those who were born here and like winter sport,” said Dr. Shari Thurer, who lives on Beacon Hill. She said younger people do better because they aren’t afraid to go outside. Also doing well are people who have a wide social network. “The cold is very isolating,” she noted.
Another successful strategy appears to be those who look for winter’s pleasures. “I learned to embrace winter,” said Diane Valle of Charlestown. “I like to shovel, I like to make a fire and I ski. As I get older, I realize how short winter really is and see it as a rest stop before spring.” Valle, the impetus behind Marathon Daffodils, in which hundreds of people plant bulbs and prepare pots of daffodils that bloom along the Boston Marathon route, is also busy preparing for that April run, so it’s possible she doesn’t have time to wallow in winter darkness.
Ivan Hansen, who lives on Beacon Hill and will turn 80 this March, says winter is a joy for him because it is the season of performances—music concerts, the theater, the ballet. Hansen, who grew up in Minnesota, even colder than Boston, said winter reminds him of the fun of childhood, when snow means play and games. He is proud that except for a recent spell in the hospital, he has been out tromping around in the weather every single day for several years.
Reading by a fire, baking and braising, and listening to the Saturday afternoon Metropolitan Opera broadcasts gets Francine Crawford of the Back Bay through the winter. This year, however, she’s taken a different tack, one that some New Englanders might find refreshing. She’s headed for a warm clime, but it’s not Florida. She is returning for a short visit to Maui, where her mother was born and raised and she used to visit in the summers. But her plans are not beachy.
She is looking forward to visiting the Baldwin Sugar Museum, a museum of plantation life during the early 20th century. Her grandfather and uncles worked for the sugar company. The museum, she said, has formed a partnership with UMass Dartmouth that will digitize the company’s records and create a searchable website so people can trace their families and employment histories. Since she hasn’t been back to the island since 1968, she expects it will have changed.
Getting through the winter will be exciting for Crawford. For the rest of us, there is still that toasty fire.