7 deep truths to help you cope with the mid-winter blues

city snowEven though there’s still another month before the spring equinox, the local record-keepers have noted this year has already achieved standing as the fourth-snowiest winter in my region: 65.4 inches.

When winter is aggressively demonstrative, what with 18-inch snowfalls, icy blizzards and polar vortices making roads impassable, outdoor ventures dangerous, and forcing commerce and culture to stop and take notice, it’s no wonder folks get fed up with Nature’s insistent intrusions. (How dare it!)

However, to help us cope while we are still in the literal thick of it all, here are seven deep truths freshly dug out from a winter going long…

1. Fresh snowfall is refreshing. Not only is it beautiful, but it is invigorating for the land and wildlife. Many smaller animals are actually more safely ensconced under a protective blanket of snow than they are exposed to the elements. Snowmelt recharges the underground water table enabling vibrantly healthy forests, crops and drinking water reservoirs. And Beauty is sufficiently refreshing in its own accord.

2. A forced retreat is better than no retreat. Cycles of resourcefulness and rest are both inherent in creation and vital to our wellbeing and future viability. Quiet does not mean disengaged. Stillness isn’t immobility. And peaceful isn’t necessarily passivity. Internal strength derives as much from our restorative rest as it does from our reserved resources. Release the death-grip on your to-do list: snow days have purpose.

3. It is easier to advance through the difficulties if we rise to their challenges. This insight came to me as I tried to slog through two feet of snow to my slumbering garden. At some places, the ice in a lower layer held me for a second or two before I crunched through to an even lower layer. It was exhausting. Had I recognized that I could have used snowshoes atop the thick quilt of snow, I’d have not only saved a lot of energy, but also managed my outdoor affairs much better. Overcome your hardships with clear-eyed, adaptive strategies.

4. Seek refuge in the blasts. When I was a kid, my older sister April taught me how to dig a hidey-hole for my head in a large snow drift, so that when the wind blew and the ice stung my cheeks, I could avoid the hurt. When life-threatening situations arise, whether dangerous wind chill or abusive wickedness, it is neither courageous nor advantageous to face them unaided. Seek shelter, stay sound, be safe.

5. Shovel while the pile is small. Let me tell you from painful experience, shoveling 18 inches of dense, heavy snow is a literal pain in the backside! However, brushing an inch away not only thwarts future build-up but is a much easier task. Don’t let your problems snowball before you deal with them.

6. When you’re stuck, get help. Last Sunday morning on our way to church, we got our car stuck in the snowbank along our own driveway. The powerful internal combustion engine could deliver no traction against the ice and snow beneath the wheels. It required not more revving horsepower or better fuel injection, but an outside assist to relieve our trouble and resume our way. Stop spinning your wheels when freestanding support is what you really need.

7. Keep a larger perspective. We can’t avoid storms, problems and struggles. They’re a part of life. But whenever they occur, we cannot allow them to overwhelm. It’s then that it’s helpful to take a step back, and look at things from a broader perspective. It may not help us understand things any better, but it can ease our mental stress, and perhaps even suggest a solution. Keep your humor, and a long-range outlook: storms track across our paths then vanish, seasons come, and seasons go… eventually!

blizzard buries telephone poles

When this photo ran in the Jamestown, ND, newspaper, the caption jokingly read, “I think there’s a train under here somewhere!”