It might seem crazy since, ya know, I live in Maine, but I’ve never enjoyed winter. Yes, people travel to Maine specifically for various winter sports and activities — skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, dog sledding, snowmobiling — but I’ve never gotten into any of them. Yes, the average high temperature in the winter months ranges from 28 to 40 degrees, with low temperatures getting down to -10 at times (it’s forecast to get down to -8 in a couple days…), but I’ve always been a much bigger fan of 75 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze. Once I got out of school and “snow days” weren’t really a thing anymore, it just didn’t do anything for me (and even then I didn’t love winter, it was just tolerable when it meant I could stay home and watch movies all day). But that’s starting to change.
I have to say that a big motivator for me is Mukow, of course. As much as I might like to stay inside with the heat on all day, she would be miserable. She needs to head outside for the occasional quick trip to pee, but she also needs time to play, run, and adventure — and I realized that I need that adventure, too (but not the peeing — I can do that inside). It wasn’t an immediate change, though. Last winter — our first winter with a dog — I was pretty miserable. I took her outside but as quickly as I could get away with, and walks were rare — when they did happen, it was a simple trip around the block. No fun for her or for me, either. Not only was it depressing to be in the midst of it, it was terrible to dread the change of the season — to dread the final leaves falling from the trees, to dread the first 30 degree day, to dread the first snow fall. It’s really no way to live, especially when you live in a place where winter easily spans from late November to late March. I can’t pout and stomp my feet for 4+ months out of the year and expect to live a fulfilled life.
This winter I decided to be proactive instead. As New Year’s Day approached I decided to commit myself to Project 365 which encourages people to take a photo every single day for the whole year. It seemed like a perfect project since I was wanting to take more personal photos — photos that I’m not being paid to take — and document more of my life. It means that I am rediscovering my love for and interest in cemeteries — I have a huge list of Maine and New England cemeteries to visit now. It means that I am bringing my camera outside when I play with Mukow in the yard — taking more photos of her, of our surroundings, of her playing with Molly, and occasionally of me and/or Nate. It means that I am more inspired and motivated to go outside of our yard and our street — walking further, driving to parks and woods, and finding new places to explore. It’s keeping my mind and creativity active while keeping Mukow physically and emotionally stimulated. It’s helping with my anxiety, giving me something positive and constructive to focus on. It’s making me happy every day, knowing that I am capturing otherwise overlooked parts of my life and my interactions.
Winter has its own uniqueness. There’s a sense of renewal, of fresh starts, of purity. Colors are more vibrant in contrast. Even the sky is different this time of year — either a moody grey or a brilliant blue. There’s so much to explore and photograph and it’s making me really enjoy this season like I never have before. Even the cold temperatures are easier to deal with — in a way I am training myself to tolerate, accept, and eventually love this part of the year. I’m (finally) becoming more adult and responsible with dressing myself — a first for me! — by investing in good quality clothing and boots to stay warm. But just exposing myself to the elements on a daily basis means they aren’t something to be avoided or run through — they’re something to embrace and enjoy. So to all of you who hate the cold and/or the snow as much as I used to, just know there’s hope. 😉