Whit’s End: Seeking bright spots in a gloomy winter | PostIndependent.com

Whit’s End: Seeking bright spots in a gloomy winter

Carla Jean Whitley
cj@postindependent.com

The winter doldrums have set in.

That’s my interpretation, at least, and my experience. Last winter I learned February — traditionally my least-favorite month — wasn’t so bad when it was filled with snow. This winter, though? Forget what the groundhog said. If my cat insists on an open window in February, I’m calling that a sign of an early spring.

To be fair, the cat did come with a built-in fur coat. His idea of warm differs from mine, just by a hair.

I’ve seen it around town, too. While at a local coffee shop, I recently overheard a woman all but chew the staff out for not calling out her completed order loudly enough. We all have bad days, and maybe she’s like me. Maybe they increase when the days are gray and yet not quite seasonal.

I’m turning to my favorite ways to stave off the dark moods that follow the equally dreary days. Hiking is among the tops, and so twice in the past week, my friend Katrina and I have laced up our boots and set out on the trails.

Our most recent excursion was Storm King Mountain Memorial Trail, and it’s a humbling reminder of how good I have it. As we huffed and puffed up the steep terrain, I made Katrina pause for a water break.

“I have to remind myself sometimes, just because I’m tired doesn’t mean I can’t keep going,” I said.

That’s a more powerful reminder on that particular trail, where 14 firefighters died while battling the South Canyon fire. (Read more about it on page B3.) Those firefighters didn’t give up; they pushed ahead to serve the people they’d signed up to protect.

For me, hiking any trail has a way of putting the world in perspective. Life’s daily dramas don’t seem so important on the trail, and of course, physical activity is a natural pick-me-up. When winter brings me down, I know I can head out for a hike or roll out my mat for yoga (preferably in a heated room!), and my spirits will quickly lift. A hike like Storm King, though, also leaves me grateful for people who choose to protect and serve others. No matter what our roles, we could all benefit from more of that attitude.

How do you fight off the winter doldrums? Share your tips with PI Features Editor Carla Jean Whitley at cj@postindependent.com.