Are you a recent Montana transplant? Do you find yourself wondering how to survive months of snow and cold weather? There are only so many days you can go skiing and all-too- quickly the challenge becomes transforming Winter into a season you look forward to.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Take up snowshoeing. You will get more bang-for- the-buck than any other outdoor snow activity while burning between 420 to 1000 calories an hour. Snowshoeing is low impact, cardiovascular, and tones your butt. For an investment of $70 to $150, you’ll be set. Go to Bob Wards, REI, or your local sporting goods store and get properly outfitted. Snowshoes are customized according to use (type of terrain you intend to cover), your weight, and the type of bindings you prefer. Today’s snowshoes are light weight, easy to get in and out of wearing normal hiking boots, and fun. You can even get a pair for trail running in the snow.
2. Form a Book Club. Invite people you want to get better acquainted with and come up with a structure. Log onto www.realsimple.com/work-life/start-book-club-checklist for the essential list of considerations. These include whether you want a theme to your book club, such as biographies, Montana authors, etc. Also how to figure out the location and frequencies of meetings, how to choose the right people, etc. There are many established book clubs in Montana—we are a well read state. There are even on-line book clubs.
3. Start doing jigsaw puzzles. Another inexpensive and time consuming hobby. You will need a work surface that can be left undisturbed. The dining room table is a good option unless you frequently entertain. Jigsaw puzzles are terrific brain exercises and hone your visual/spatial skills. A great source for jigsaw puzzles online is www.seriouspuzzles.com
4. Volunteer in one of Montana’s many non-profits. Pick an organization that is working in an area that is of interest to you—the environment, arts, health, education, animals to name a few. Log onto www.volunteermatch.org/search to gain information on organizations close to you in need of volunteers. Take time to do a proper investigation before you jump in to determine it is a good match for you from the culture of the organization, their mission statement, their effectiveness, and the utilization of volunteers.
5. De-clutter your life. At SU Platinum Properties at PureWest Christie’s, we advise our high-end clients selling their luxury properties that they need to de-clutter their property. People are emotionally drawn to clean, tidy, easy-to- see and understand spaces. There’s no reason to wait until your home is listed to get your life organized. Winter is the time to go through cupboards, drawers, closets, pantries. If you haven’t worn something in the past 18 months maybe it is time to take it to the Goodwill. Throw out food items with expired shelf life, take used books to the library or nursing homes, get your life organized and liberated. No one wants to imagine their own demise but take these months to really look at your “stuff” and imagine your children or other family and friends having to deal with it all should something happen to you.
6. Tie your own flies. It won’t take up much space, requires investing in an initial kit, and is sure to up your fishing pleasure. Fisher men and women will tell you the awesome sense of satisfaction derived from hooking a picture-worthy trout on a fly they personally tied. There are more books, magazine articles, and videos on tying flies than any other aspect of fly fishing. One of the best sources to get you started is from Montana Troutfitters: www.troutfitters.com/blog/post/how-to-get-started-tying-your-own-flies
7. Plan your Spring garden. Montana has a short but mighty growing season with a variety of fruits and vegetables that thrive in our soil and climate. There is an excellent website that explores Montana gardening in-depth www.Montanahomesteader.com. For those really wishing to join a near-cult group of Montana gardeners, consider becoming a Master Gardener through MSU Extension program. They offer 3 levels of certification. Level 1 and 2 require 16 hours of class time each, while level 3 is a 3-day, hands on intensified gardening at the Bozeman MSU garden www.mtmastergardener.org.
8. Form a dinner club with however many other couples can be entertained in each others’ homes. There are many formats to dinner clubs, and to get yourself started in thinking what suits you, check out www.midlifeboulevard.com/start-supper-club-with-friend.
9. Throw yourself into a completely new hobby or study. Focus on something you have always imagined doing but never got around to. Painting is a good choice, as is voice lessons, or finally writing the book that is stuck in your head. My husband recently began playing the saxophone. He is a terrific piano player but had never ventured into any wind instruments. I admit the first couple of months reminded me of having a grammar school kid back at home practicing for the school band, but now Dearest is becoming quite good. Practice makes perfect, but first you have to practice.
10. Reconnect with yourself, your family, your friends. Montana’s Big Skies are ideal for meditation and reflection. It’s always good to re-think priorities. Winter months are times to snuggle in, both figuratively and spiritually. The weather offers opportunity and time to email or call friends who have disappeared from radar, to look inward, to repair fences, to decide on your future goals, and to concentrate on your health and happiness. Winter is precious.