Tulips, Tea, Cashmere — How To Survive This Long, Snowy Winter!

Cover of The Mail and Empire, Christmas 1897
Image via Wikipedia

Are you utterly sick of snow and ice yet? There’s more to come.

Coping skills, stat!

Nice piece on how to survive this insanely cold snowy winter, from The Globe and Mail:

Take a young person to whom you are not related to lunch. I did – a charming way to find out about their lives, to reflect on your own children’s progress and to feel generous, hopeful and wise. If you’re young, suggest lunch to a mentor. For sure they will pay!

Volunteer. The eternal cure. Whether it’s to teach literacy to newcomers or to ladle out soup on a cold winter night, helping others never fails to lift your own spirits.

Cook passionately. Entertain generously. See people constantly. On one snowy day I made a red lentil soup that made several people happy, and you can never go wrong in winter with a nice hot curry.

Movies. Why go out, the theory goes, when DVDs and downloads are so easy. In the depths of winter you can explore a theme. I’m thinking great newspaper movies, such as Citizen Kane and All The President’s Men.

I’ll add:

Tea. I have a huge stash of tea ready at hand, from black and spicy loose leaf Earl Grey and blackcurrant tea to green tea, chai (Tazo is nice), lemon and Constant Comment, which has orange and spices in it. As the daylight fades, I brew a pot of tea in my white bone china teapot, let it steep, find a cup and saucer, add some milk and pour. Maybe a few biscuits or a bit of cheese and apple. Perfect!

Cashmere. Think thrift shop, vintage stores and consignment shops and you’ll find a cosy cashmere cardigan or pullover for the price of a cotton T-shirt. Cashmere is, although it comes from the belly of Mongolian goats, the workhorse of fabrics. I’m writing this wearing my go-to winter outfit — a calf-length black cashmere T-shirt dress that is so old I can’t remember the year I bought it….1993? A long time ago.

A lovely bit of cashmere, whether socks, a sweater, a scarf, mitts or hat, is light, warm, chic, and will last for decades. What’s not to love?

Plants, everywhere. Just when you think you will never see green again, time to head to your local nursery and pick up a few growing, live plants. Watering and spraying them will remind you that living things still do exist!

Visit a botanical garden. What better place than the fragrant humidity of a glass-enclosed garden? One of my best memories ever was in November in Stockholm, when it was dark by 3:00 pm and the sun did not rise until 8:30 a.m. We visited the Butterfly House — where live butterflies float past and often land on you.

Long walks. The best investment anyone can make when facing a long, snowy, icy winter is a great pair of winter boots, waterproof and warm — and a pair of Yaktrax. These little rubber overshoes with metal claws on the bottom make a long, vigorous walk a serious option without that terrible fear of falling. I’ve used them. They work!

Ice skating/snow-shoeing/skiing/sledding. If you’re stuck with months of ice and snow, best to find some ways to make fun use of it. There are plenty of great places to go skating even in super-urban New York City. One of my favorite things to do is cruise the temporary ice-rink at Bryant Park, open until February 27, which offers fabulous music and the most lovely surroundings — from the glittery curves of the Chrysler Building to the Empire State Building a few blocks south. Soaring around its oval as the sun sets and the towers light up all around you is a wonderful way to end even the coldest and grayest day.

And here is an extraordinary photo of how the sun will strike a Mallorca church tomorrow, February 2, in a twice-yearly phenomenon.

In case you happen to be in the area…

There is sunshine out there!

How are you surviving this endless freeze?

17 thoughts on “Tulips, Tea, Cashmere — How To Survive This Long, Snowy Winter!

  1. I have been baking up a storm. I find my apartment too hot for baking during the spring and summer, and even a large part of the fall, so I’m taking advantage of the cooler temperatures to treat myself.

  2. Great ways to warm up inside and out. We have a number of ice-skating rinks around London at this time of year … you’ve reminded me that that’s something I’ve really wanted to do. Not sure if I’m brave enough to try skating after all these years, but you never know! Certainly worth a visit. Thanks for this, bsb
    Sunshine xx

  3. Gogogogogogogo! Skating — says the Canadian — is so much fun. Yes, falling on ice hurts. But the actual motion involved is not nearly as difficult as newbies think it will be. Once you start moving, you’ll have the momentum to keep going; the normal beginner’s mistake is to take little choppy steps instead of long, gliding strides that help you keep moving.

    If you can find someone to teach or coach you, I think you’ll find it’s a really lovely way to be outdoors and exercising in a social setting. I may try to go this weekend, even with my lousy hip. I miss it so much!

    1. I might just do it, bsb! I have ice-skated before – as a teenager – and I managed to glide and fall in equal measure! And once I fell flat on my face, and my entire front was sopping wet and frozen!
      Thanks for the useful tips and the encouragement – I’ll keep you posted! xx

      1. Be sure to wear nice thick socks so you’re warm and don’t get blisters. The getting wet thing is a problem! So…don’t fall! 🙂

        I love the idea of doing something so rustic and timeless and rural as skating within the towers of a great city like London or NYC. In Ottawa, Canada, many people (!!) skate to work along the Rideau Canal.

  4. I made a great soup the other night. Plus, we are to have a gathering of friends on Friday night if the blizzard does not scare them away. Pizza and drinks as well as games and socialization on our end. We asked friends to bring side dishes and games of their choosing.

  5. Sounds like fun! I’m planning a dinner party for six this Saturday. I haven’t had people over in months and am really looking forward to it. I think cabin fever can really set in if we don’t make the effort to get together face to face.

  6. I would add, and don’t shrink those lovely sweaters! 😉

    Very big on DVD nights in this house, and recently boxsets (Black Books, Spaced, and now working through Northern Exposure!)

    I love Botanic Gardens, and butterflies are my thing. Sarge took me to the Butterfly house here, and we got some amazing photos!

    He’s trying to make me a tea convert, and I LOVE Masala Chai.

    Spring for me means my birthday, and my personal new year. Always good. Really looking forward to my 30th next month. I sense beautiful things.

    That stuff sees me through winter.

    Maybe a little early, but Happy Spring to you, when it comes!

    1. I will never forget that terrible photo of yours of that shrunken sweater!

      I miss Northern Exposure — my very first customer (!) when I began my retail job (that my new book is about) was Janine Turner. How damn cool is that?

      Tea is the best. People don’t always realize how many different kinds there are. For a really crazy taste, try Lapsang Souchong — super-tarry, like licking the deck of an 18th- century whaler. We all do that, right?

      I hope all sorts of wonderful things come your way at 30. I had a rockin’ party for my 30th and received two very beautiful tall vases I still use all those years later.

      Spring? Spring???? Can you spell that???? 🙂 You, too.

  7. carolinegarrod

    I love this post! I, too, have been wearing cashmere and drinking a lot of tea. I second the comment on chili & cornbread – absolute favourite winter comfort food! My housemates and I have spread electric blankets on both of our couches, which have improved life tenfold. I recommend it highly!

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