Ever since I moved into the Columbia Valley nine years ago, this has been the time of year I tend to go a bit stir-crazy; actually, more like a lot stir crazy. I’m pretty confident all of us valley people living under the fog, are feeling it. Having grown up in sunny Alberta, then to move here from Kimberley — where I was usually above the valley fog — the winter gloom was quite a shock to my system. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t the only one suffering. The usually chatty and friendly community members instead exchange only forced smiles or simple grunts as niceties in the streets and grocery aisles. However, when that sun does decide to shine, the town comes alive like a scene from Mary Poppins. People virtually sing and prance in the streets, with smiles so bright they are as blinding as the sun.
Yes, I take vitamin D supplements and have a sun lamp, but nothing can replace the real thing. As I sit here writing this, I can see the outline of the sun through the fog — mocking me while I dream of the warm tingles when the rays of sunshine tickle my face. I have been Googling tropical vacation deals for the past three weeks, but have given in to the fact that it just isn’t financially possible for me. So how does a person get out of this funk if they can’t get to the sunshine?
I realized from quite a young age that the easiest way to put a smile on my face and a bounce in my step is to listen to music. Music will play in my house before I even grind my beans for coffee; which speaks volumes as I really love my coffee. Once the music is playing, it’s hard not to move and nothing heals the soul like dancing. There are many great music events in our community and the surrounding area which offer ample opportunity to get your groove on all winter long. Try a Zumba class, or belly-fit if you’re not comfortable in a freestyle dance atmosphere.
Those combine with my next tip for combating the winter blues: exercise. Not only is exercise good for your health, it’s good for your mind. Go outside to exercise if you can; fresh air works wonders. Living in a mountain paradise, trails abound waiting for exploration by cross-country skis or snowshoers. Up the Kuskanax valley, Wenseley Creek, Summit Lake, Summit Lake Ski Area, the flats down by the lake and Rails to Trails here in town are just a few examples of the beautiful places this area has to offer. And as you’re getting some fresh air and exercise it’s also a great time to connect with your loved ones. Bring them along with you. Nothing chases the blues away like the laughter you share with your dear friends and family.
Music, dancing, outdoor exercise and being with good friends have made a huge difference to my sanity during the winter months. Those, as well as daily reminders of how beautiful the rest of the year is in this valley, are what stop me from packing my bags and moving south. Keep smiling valley friends, keep dancing like we do; the sun will be shining real soon.