Look, I don’t just like wintertime: I LOVE it. I really do. The brisk air, the clothes that cover my fat, the snow…it’s all really awesome. It is. But here’s the thing: for the last nine years I’ve lived in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and our winters can be trying. I know, I know, there are worse places. A friend of mine hails from Fort McMurray, Alberta. It starts snowing there in goddam SEPTEMBER. In my defense I’ll point out that for the three years before living in Da Fort (as it is sometimes called) I lived in New Bern, North Carolina. Carolina ain’t Florida or Hawaii, but one story sticks with me about my time in NC. My lovely wife Heidi and I were at the gym, using side-by-side treadmills or something, watching the television. The local news was reporting that there was a two-hour school delay the following morning…for snow. The thing is, and this is what caused Heidi and myself to look at each other and giggle at these poor Carolinians in raw, Midwestern condescension was that NOT A SINGLE FLAKE HAD FALLEN. They were delaying school over a forecast…FORECAST…two inches of snow. Possibly. We guffawed until a friend native to the area remarked that they literally had no salt trucks in the county and probably no more than a handful of snowplows in the entire state. It made sense. Indiana does not post hurricane evacuation routes, and I’ll bet most people in New Mexico don’t carry flood insurance, so…yeah.
The point of this whole intro is to underscore how different the snowy tundra of Northern Indiana is to the mild barely-frost-covered winters of North Carolina. And while I was very grateful for the prospect of a White Christmas again, I’m afraid that this winter has been harder than most to bear, probably because it’s been so damn mild. “Wait…WHAT?” you ask, all perplexed by my contradictory statement. It’s true. A few weeks ago it was 60 degrees in Ft. Wayne. I’ve used my snowblower maybe twice this season. There wasn’t any hockey for the first half. It just hasn’t felt like winter, and the motto I like shouting at my friends and family is “shit or get off the pot,” usually yelled as I sit reading on the toilet, not actually defecating. (Makes your legs fall asleep, so it does.) So I’m ready for this “season” to be over. No snow? Fine, then. Turn up the sunshine, baby. Break out the shorts. And if that ain’t happening just yet (fuck you, Punxsutawney Phil! YOU LIED TO ME!!) then allow me to offer these tips for getting through the mid-winter hump. They work. Trust me.
This encompasses all manner of stimuli. The go-to, easy method is to browse Netflix for shows and movies that are set in a warmer, preferably tropical, location. This winter the wife and I have begun watching Burn Notice, and love it. Not just because the characters and story are fun and smart (and Bruce Campbell. ‘Nuff said, baby) but because all the transitions/cutscenes are footage of Miami. People on Wave Runners, beach umbrellas to the horizon, and tons of eye-candy. I mean, they oughtta call it “Butt Notice,” amirite? And for the ladies, well…Michael Westen is often shirtless. But I’d also recommend “Point Break” or “The Endless Summer” along with episodes of BAywatch or even that one show where Hulk Hogan had a powerboat. But don’t stop with the TV and movies. I have played the holy hell out of “Far Cry 3” not only because it’s fun and immersive, but let’s face it…you’re on a tropical island that could be anywhere between Hawaii and Papua New Guinea. Gorgeous, and you can imagine you’re actually swimming in warm azure waters (while trying not to get shot.)
This is easy. Got some Bob Marley on your iPod or Pandora channel? Crank that shit up, mon. Now, personally, I try to avoid this when it is the absolute dead of winter with the sun going down at 4:30 in the afternoon and a foot of snow on the ground. When I do chance it, I hear a voice made of cold, frozen tears tell me “Your magic will not work here.” There definitely has to be a proper setting. Daytime, perhaps. Or when the first snowmelt begins. Then, the music is a catalyst. It’s a power-up of epic proportions. And if there’s an unusually mild and sunny day, one where you briefly consider cracking the window on your ride, and you just happen to throw on anything by Sublime or Jimmy Buffett, then no power in the ‘Verse can stop you. Feels good, man. Let it flow.