A Local’s Guide to “Surviving and Thriving” in Winter
Let’s face it, winter in New England can drag on a bit longer than necessary, even for those of us most fond of frigid weather. Nonetheless, this season presents some of the best times to go outside and enjoy what nature has to offer—you just need the proper gear and a little bit of inspiration.
Winter for the Frigid
So this method is for those of you, like myself, who are incapable of keeping your extremities warm during winter months. Believe it or not, there are a couple of methods to help your body metabolize the cold in more efficient ways. The first of these tactics is to invest in proper gear to help keep your body insulated. The more surface area protected from the cold, the less heat you will lose. Armor your trunk with layers, including a dry-fit long sleeve, wool sweater, and finally, a down jacket to keep yourself warm and dry. Although synthetic jackets are typically better at repelling rain, most down jackets are now equipped with water-defying fabric and offer far better warmth than their synthetic counterparts.
This is a no-brainer, but you should always keep your noggin toasty with a hat or earmuffs, and your fingers, well “feeling,” with a pair of waterproof mittens. For those of you who struggle to keep your hands warm, invest in a glove liner and, more importantly, hand warmers. Nowadays, there are even some electronic hand warmers that you can recharge and reuse. The same can be said for heated foot insoles, heated gloves, or rechargeable heated socks.
For those who don’t have the funds to invest in an $80 pair of socks, hand warmers and a double-walled insulated thermos (filled with a steaming beverage of your choice) go a long way to keep your blood flowing. One reason many outdoor enthusiasts fail to retain heat is the fact they are dehydrated, whether they know it or not. No matter how grueling a winter sport is, people are typically less keen on drinking water when their bodies are cold. Unintentional dehydration, in turn, makes it more difficult for the body to maintain its temperature equilibrium. To combat this issue, drinking hot beverages will encourage more liquid consumption and “temporarily improve circulation by causing the arteries and veins to expand,” according to Web.MD. Otherwise, make sure to have a hearty breakfast and energy to spare before venturing out into frigid temperatures—your appendages will thank you.
Winter for Artistic Folk
If you aren’t particularly fond of winter sports, I can see how this might deter you from finding the silver lining of the snowy season. However, there are many non-athletic ways to appreciate winter and its beauty. Among these include photography and art. We all know it—fresh snowfall has a way of purifying our surroundings, blanketing the earth with a temporary layer of glistening white. This, of course, only lasts a couple of days. But in this temporary interim where the world is quiet, businesses are closed, and plows have yet to churn through the blanket of white, there exists an opportunity to capture the spectacle of winter, from the snow tracing every branch on every oak, the cardinal whose vibrant red juxtaposes its wintry backdrop, to the view from one’s window overlooking the untrodden streets. It is only winter that gifts us with this unprompted stillness each snow day—the opportunity to acknowledge nature’s power to give things life just as quickly as it takes it away.
If you are artistic, there is so much beauty to capture during this season, whether through photography, outdoor still-life paintings, or just as a spectator looking for artistic inspiration. With the help of some quality winter-weather gear, you’ll be cruising through your next photo op without having to worry if your toes are still attached to your body. If you’re feeling extra confident with your captured masterpieces, consider submitting them in a local photo contest, or sharing them with fellow club members at Notch Above Photo Club—a group that meets every month to “educate and enhance photographer self-development.”
Winter for the Spectator
In addition to spurring creative hobbies, winter is also a time to capitalize on outdoor sporting events, snow sculpture competitions, ice castle visits, scenic winter drives, bonfires, or SnowCoach tours up Mount Washington. Also, be sure to check out Jackson’s Annual Snow Sculpting competition where master sculptures from all over New England transform an 8 by 4-foot mound of snow into an artistic masterpiece. If this doesn’t strike your interest, consider perusing New Hampshire’s tax-free shopping destinations. The Outlets in Merrimack, North Conway, and Tilton offer incredible deals in close proximity to different outdoor and local attractions.
Winter for the Athletes and Adventurers
Finally, for those of you who relish winter and its related activities, congratulations, you win. There’s no shortage of blood pumping, adrenaline-raising activities to hurl yourself into this season. From the more obvious activities, like skiing, hiking, and snowboarding, to the more “niche” hobbies, like curling or dog sledding, there’s surely a winter hobby for all of you elite humans, complete with an internal thermostat that’s always set to 100 degrees.
Gifted with your super-human, super-heating powers, the mountains, frozen lakes, snowy wooded paths, and below zero temperatures are your prized domain. There’s nothing in winter that doesn’t belong to you. Take advantage of the feeling in your toes, and hop on some cross country skis, a snowmobile, or snowshoes, and check out the vast trail networks across the state, or grab an ice pick and sign up for a guided ice climb in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. If you’re feeling extra daring, strip down to your skivvies and charge furiously toward the Atlantic’s icy waters in the annual penguin plunge at Hampton Beach.
Regardless of which type of winter warrior you are, you can surely find some ways to make winter more bearable, if not a frigid blast! Yes, it takes a bit more effort and gear to take part in the joys of this season, but the payoff is well worth the time and experimentation needed to cultivate a new winter passion. Taking the time this season to find a new joy (or heated pair of gloves) will leave you feeling hopeful and excited next November when the trees grow bare and the first squalls send a shiver up your spine.