The Other Winter Survival Guide 

Tips for those who loathe winter

The end of fall brings sheer excitement for some as they daydream at their desks about that first glorious run down The Gully on Bogus Basin. For others, the end of fall brings a sense of gloom and a need for serious coping mechanisms to endure three months of cold, dark, depressive days.

We at Boise Weekly are a mixed bag of winterphiles and winterphobes. In essence, we prepare for winter all year long as we slave away in our bat-cave of an office. We are intimately familiar with the effects of light deprivation. Some of us feel safe and snug in the cave and some of us have forced walk breaks to boost our Vitamin D and serotonin levels in order to stave off urges to do ourselves in.

Studies suggest that being a winter-wart may have as much to do with the lack of light during the winter months as with an intense dislike of cold weather or the inconveniences associated with snow (snow shovels, snow tires, ice scrapers, bulky insulated clothing, cumbersome snow sporting equipment ... need I continue in this biased manner?). Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or "winter depression" is a real form of depression often ameliorated by purchasing a full-spectrum light box, which affected persons use to soak up simulated "natural" light.

But what to do if you're not clinically SAD but not exactly enthralled with winter? Here are some suggestions to make the most of the beastly gap between fall and spring.

Stay warm at all costs. Turn up the heat in your house as much as your budget will allow. Call the chimney sweep early so you can actually use your fireplace this year without sounding all the smoke alarms in the house. Purchase a hot water bottle or a heated herbal pillow to sandwich in your sheets and warm your feet so you don't tense up beyond repair when slithering into bed or shock your bed-mate with your icicle toes. Better yet, surprise your sweet pea with a pair of lavender-scented, heat-up-in-the-microwave fleece booties for the holidays. Or try a scalding hot bath right before bed and become a human furnace your honey won't be able to resist.

Drink, wallow, pound the carbs and hibernate, hibernate, hibernate. Take advantage of the fact that winter, by its very nature, gives us permission to be miserable and misanthropic, which is sometimes a good thing. No one wants to be one of those annoying, hyper-optimistic types people can't stand. Feel free to screen your calls and spoon your dog on the couch while devouring a new book. Mix up a new hot toddy recipe to light a fire in your belly. Lounge around all day in your flannel pajamas then cook up colossal batches of starchy, comforting soups (think potato leek) that will steam up your kitchen, provide you with several freezable meals and satiate the primal instinct we have to store fat through the winter.

Partake in activities that remind you of summer. Throw a tropical themed party with battery-powered tiki torches, Mai Tais and fried bananas. Go out dancing to a club that gets moving and grooving so you can sport your favorite tank top and relish the feeling of showing some skin again. Go swimming in an indoor pool and let the tiles blur into the coral clouds and endless cerulean of the Mediterranean Sea. Attend a Hot Yoga class in a room heated to over 105 degrees--you'll leave thankful that the oppressive heat of summer is still months away.

Badger and deny. When you wake up to another dreary, inverted sky, scowl through the window and yell, "You nasty, ugly sky" and see if it provides any momentary relief. Buy makeup that makes you look tan instead of pasty (Clinique makes a great product--for men--called Non-Streak Bronzer, but they won't check your ID if you don't look manly.)

Escape. Get yourself signed up for Travelocity's fare watcher (www.travelocity.com) to a relatively cheap warm-weather destination like Vegas, Santa Fe, Santa Barbara or Cabo San Lucas. Travelocity will send you e-mails when the fares have dropped to irresistible prices. If flying is out of the question, pack up the car and drive south until you can wear a short-sleeved shirt--like to Zion National Park in Southern Utah.

Give in. Say "yes" to those friends who have invited you umpteen times to go cross-country skiing and see if you might allow yourself to enjoy it. Only agree to go if your friends promise to furnish you with all the right gear to be warm and comfortable (good gloves and socks, gators, a non-itchy hat and decent skis and boots). See if you can talk them into a post-ski soak at Kirkham hot springs. Not even the surliest winter grinch can deny the bliss of a winter hot springs dip.

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