The onset of the Winter in the Midwest has most people lamenting the long, cold, dreary season. Once the first snow falls and as the days get shorter, moods tend to darken as well. Dreams of trips to our “happy place”, the southern climes, the desert, the beach, where layers upon layers are not required to venture out and the sun seems to shine a little brighter, start to occupy our thoughts.
I’m a midwestern girl, born and raised. Sure, I spent several years in Colorado and a few in the desert of California, but the majority of my 56 years have been spent in central Illinois. While Colorado is arguably one the the most beautiful states and my current “happy place” is an escape to Scottsdale, there is something about braving the colder climes which fosters appreciation for vacations to warmer spots and also, the arrival of warmer months.
This spirit of gratitude for the midwestern winter hit me while walking my dog on a cold Thanksgiving afternoon. I had just prepped most of the food and had a few hours before we’d be sitting down to eat. I decided that a walk would accomplish two things nicely; some pre-meal exercise for myself and the chance to burn off some pup energy for my three year old Spinone. And so I bundled up, put the dog harness on Louie and off we went.
The cold air felt refreshing after spending hours in the kitchen. Although the day was gray, I felt a sense of lightness and peace, and it dawned on me – this is my “happy place”. As I continued our walk, I came upon fellow dog-walkers and we wished each other happy Thanksgiving as our dogs sniffed or growled at each other. I pondered how fortunate I was to have warm clothes for this walk. Also, a car with heated seats and steering wheel, a warm home, family and friends nearby.
I thought about how I often meet up with a friend, or a few, at a favorite coffee spot and commiserate about the weather – and yet, I am among friends, sharing our lives, a laugh and good coffee! We all have our favorite spots, “our” nail salons, “our” gym, “our” coffee shop – and these places bring us comfort and familiarity no matter the season.
Yes, Winter in cold climates does get old and to some extent, depressing. But the times we live in make it manageable. We bundle up in our parkas, pull in our warm (but stylish boots) and go on about our day.
In the evenings, which start around 4:30, we get home from work, prepare a meal in the comfort of our modern kitchens and cozy up under a blanket on the couch to watch our favorite shows. We basically slow down and hibernate.
And we look forward to Spring – which, by the way, never fails to come.
And when we do get to take that trip to a warmer place, we appreciate every second of it. We stay outside, hike, bike, golf or sit by the pool. We soak in the warmth and scenery, taking nothing for granted, knowing that the trip will end and we’ll be back home, to the cold, soon.
I guess the real point to these ramblings is that maybe our happy place isn’t a place at all. Maybe it’s a state of mind – where you are comfortable, where your people are and where you thrive. And without the tough seasons (in life as well as in weather), we couldn’t fully appreciate the newness of Spring and the long languid days of Summer.
May where you are right now be your happy place.