Thursday, October 30, 2008

10 Good Things about Winter

Every year, I wrack my brain to find reasons to enjoy winter. Every year it gets a little tougher, but here we go:
  1. Baking and roasting as much as I want — without overheating the house.
  2. Cashmere and shearling. Warm, soft, good-looking.
  3. Cocoa. I drank sugar-free Swiss Miss year-round to stay warm at my former job (in fingerless gloves and a fleece, while blasting a space heater). But I'm no longer there, so hot chocolate tastes like fun again. Our favorite brand is Penzey's.
  4. Christmas. By mid November, I'll be getting in the mood for holiday displays in stores. And twinkly lights and fragrant greens always make me happy, even the day after Halloween.  Then there's Christmas music, and food, our lovely tree, and presents!
  5. Boots. My only classy, comfortable alternative to flip flops. Every fall I order many boots online from Zappos and ShoeBuy and spend weeks making up my mind. I've got four promising styles at the moment and one more on the way.
  6. Clementines. The wooden crates have just appeared at DeLuca's. Of all fruits, I think clementines taste the most like candy. 
  7. Blizzards. Even when I don't have a job to go to, I love being trapped at home, especially when my husband gets a snow day. All I need is bread, cheese, chocolate, and a book.
  8. Bed. We use flannel sheets and a thick down comforter throughout the year, but this winter we're going to be warm. We bought a Level 3 down comforter for half-price at the Cuddledown outlet in Freeport. Most customers buy a "Summer" or a Level 1 comforter if their house has normal winter heating. Level 2 is for people who are always cold and turn the heat way down. Level 3 is for people who are always cold and live like pioneers, with bedroom temps in the low 50s. Level 4 is for people who always feel cold but are dumb enough to live in an unheated chateau or cabin. Cuddledown clerks are thrifty Mainers who try to talk you into the least expensive option. They were stunned and almost horrified when we told them we used a heavy comforter in Boston in July, with the windows open. And that, although our bedroom is drafty, we get decent heat. They practically begged us not to buy the Level 3, as if it were a Level 3 biohazard instead of 4 pounds of goose down and feathers. But we insisted. And we're putting a coverlet on top.
  9. Winter Olympics. There's no better way to waste time on a freezing night than watching guys in mullets and velvet unitards throw sequined, bleached blondes across the ice to music from Goldfinger. Too bad we have to wait until 2010.
  10. Wreaths. For the past few years, I've volunteered as a wreath decorator for the Back Bay Garden Club's holiday fundraiser. They sell hundreds of wreaths, and dozens of us spend days in a church basement on Marlborough Street, getting coated in pitch and punctured by flower picks as we turn plain balsam wreaths into elaborate yet sturdy creations. I suspect that everyone in the club except me has a second home in the country, and they gather bushels of pinecones, berries, boughs, holly, and dried flowers, plus every possible item from the flower market for decorating material. My first year, I had to make two huge, matching wreaths for Tom Brady's front doors. The pressure! The Garden Club women are talented, hard-working, wise, and fun, and I feel honored to be among them. Wreath sales support tree pruning and planting projects in Back Bay. But what I love most is hanging out in the alley in a mask with a can of spray paint (gold pinecones are essential), knowing I can't possibly be arrested.

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