There was a time long ago when I dreamed of moving to the land of eternal sunshine. Packing it all in, giving up on the northeastern lifestyle and moving south where I wouldn’t need to own a snow shovel, a parka, or carry emergency clothes/food in the back of my car for five months.

But, then, something shifted inside me when I realized that I actually love having four seasons. I get bored with summer. I get annoyed with the heat/humidity and that blazing sun in my damn face all the time.  I like it when things cool off and the leaves changed colors. I like spring when we get those first few warm days and the trees start to bud, the bird start to return and you can smell the wet earth.

I even like winter, although I wish it were about two months shorter. March and April are cruel months in Erie — filled with hope for spring with the occasional sunny and warm day, followed by a walloping reminder that it’s still snow/ice season in northwestern PA.

It’s helpful then to remember what I love about winter and savor these last few weeks:

1. Winter is an excuse to slow down. Snow, ice, darkness, lack of events/outdoor activities this time of year — they all conspire to slow us down, keep us inside, and force us to chill. That’s not a bad thing.

2. The utter silence. There is nothing more peaceful than a winter walk after (or during) a fresh snowfall. The birds are away. Dogs and people are indoors. In a world so full of noise, it’s a welcome respite.

3. The cool weather.  You can always put on more clothes or wrap up in a cozy blanket to stay warm. In summer, you can only take off so many clothes to deal with the heat/humidity. Beyond that, all you can do is get in A/C or water.

4. More family time/downtime. The lack of sunlight and cold weather means we’re not outside too much. Winter evenings are spent together in the house. We make more dinners. We work on more puzzles. We watch more TV together as a family. We just spend more time together in winter.

5. It’s off-season for running.  Winter is, for me, a reprieve from the grind of running. There aren’t many races and I wouldn’t do them anyway (ice/snow), so winter is an opportunity for me to cut back on mileage/speed and abandon any training plans. It’s a few months of running only when I want to as far as I want to, if I feel like it.  I’ve come to treasure that. It feels good to let go…to just run for the joy of it. And, I do love winter running (provided I have decent footing).

6. Better TV.  We rarely even have our television on in summer, but it’s on most winter nights and we enjoy the “all new” episodes of some of our favorite shows, like The Goldbergs, This is Us, and Modern Family.

7. The smell of winter. Crisp, clean, cool, fresh. No rotting fish, humid stank, hot smelly garbage, etc.

8. No insects. ’nuff said.

9. How the world looks coated in snow. Sometimes, when we get that kind of snowfall that coats every branch and every surface in a layer of white, well…it’s breathtaking. Even more so if you get a little sun to make it all shimmer and send you scurrying for your sunglasses.

10. No sun burning my face off every day. I don’t like the sun on my face. This is why I rarely run in daylight in summer.

11. Seeing birds nests in bare trees. This might be my favorite thing about winter: When all the leaves are off the trees, the birds and bees nests are revealed and I marvel ever year at how close they were to us all summer, and we had no clue.

12. Peppermint mocha coffee. I mean…it’s peppermint, chocolate and coffee. It’s the perfect hot beverage.

13. Winter sunrises. Here’s something you may not know: The best sunrises in Erie are in March. Hands down. Take it from a girl who has been running at dawn in this town for twenty years.

14. Winter birds. I admire any bird that stays in Erie for winter. They are hardy, badass, and, some, like the cardinal and black-capped chickadee, are pretty, too.

15. Hoodies and yoga pants. If I had my way, this is what I would wear year-round everywhere that I go. If you see me outside of work from September to May, it’s likely you already realize this about me.

16. Running tights and Under Armour tops. I love winter running clothes. They not only hide the winter weight, but they hold everything in place, nice and taut.

17. The coziness of the season. The flickering (gas) fireplace, warm blankets, fuzzy socks, fleece PJ pants, a cat on my lap, a book and a cup of hot coffee by my side = winter happiness.

18. Reading. I read a lot more in winter, mostly because I can’t be outside doing more active things.

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