How to survive January

Posted 12/31/19

THIS COLD, DARK PLACE — Sometimes it doesn’t feel worth getting up in the morning. 

Of course, “morning” is a relative term, these days. It’s still dark. …

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How to survive January


THIS COLD, DARK PLACE — Sometimes it doesn’t feel worth getting up in the morning. 

Of course, “morning” is a relative term, these days. It’s still dark. It’s cold. Outside, ice awaits, hoping you will slip on it. (Yes, the ice is sentient, and it has plans for your future.) There is snow on your car, on the road and now on you. 

But don’t despair! There are things you can do to pass the time till the days get perceptibly longer, spring breaks forth and the robin comes back. You could even—dare I say it—not stay indoors.

You can do something active

Yes, you should go outside, because physical activity and fresh air are good for you, even in winter. Of course, be careful: remember that ice.

If you ski, you can ski. If you don’t ski, the skiing place will teach you. Or try skiing’s close cousin snowboarding. Snow tubing is also available at most skiing locations.

Lack of snow and our so-far rainy winter is no excuse; the facilities can provide. 

For the locals, Ski-Big Bear at Masthope Mountain offers hefty discounts ($18 lift tickets and $15 rentals) on Friday nights from 4 to 9 p.m. for those living in the following school districts: Wallenpaupack, Wayne Highlands, Delaware Valley, Western Wayne, Port Jervis, Sullivan West and Eldred. 

And don’t forget about snowshoeing! Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor is hosting an introductory class on Sunday, January 12 at 11:30 a.m.  It’s beginner-friendly, great exercise, and inexpensive too. 

Watch birds

Not all the birds leave for winter. Every Christmas, the Audubon Society does a bird count, listing all the birds the members can find within a given range. Last year, the Sullivan County Audubon Society found cardinals, mergansers, wild turkeys, bald eagles, a swamp sparrow and many more. Contact the Audubon Society for more information on winter birdwatching: in New York or in Pennsylvania.

You can learn something new

Libraries are open year-round. Not only do they offer traditional fun, like story hours and crafts, but they’ve become learning hubs, with books and computers (and internet, for those who don’t have broadband). Most libraries have lectures or other events, even during the winter. Call your local library and ask.

Each county has a cooperative extension (Cornell in New York and Penn State in PA), and they are a mother lode of agricultural knowledge. You can expand your woods-lore, learn about farming and much more through their webinars. Give them a call or go to their websites for answers to all your agricultural and country-living questions.

Read a book

E-book, tree-book—doesn’t matter. Again, visit your local library and look over the shelves, or ask a librarian for a recommendation. Interlibrary Loan can bring most books to you, or if you need e-books (because some of us believe that print gets smaller every year) ask about that. You can also check out the internet archive. 

However, since this is a piece urging you to leave your house and step into that crisp, winter air, maybe bring your book to a coffee shop, or… maybe a bakery?

Eat something wonderful

Our local bakeries offer a wide range of deliciousness, both traditional favorites and new surprises. The Jeffersonville Bake Shop just opened to a crowd, proving that everyone wants to eat in the winter. They have breads, scones, cupcakes, after-school snacks, and they will soon add soups, salads and sandwiches. Filled with the aroma of fresh baked goods and coffee, the bakery consists of several rooms featuring books, nostalgic antiques, comfortable furnishings and a large wood-framed working fireplace: the perfect place for anyone seeking a bit of warmth on a chilly day.

In Liberty on North Main Street, Floyd & Bobos was recently ranked fourth in’s rankings of the top 32 bakeries in Upstate New York. Open since 2007, owners Louie Petraglia and Ellen Marino offer baked goods and meals in the winter. The place is a treat for the eyes, a combination of funky and hip to make for a colorful, fresh change of scenery. (Reporting contributed by Barbara Winfield.) 

Embrace the snow and create something new

Go outside with friends or family and try your hand at building an igloo.

If the snow is wrong (powdery or nonexistent), turn it into a sweeter adventure and make your igloo indoors with marshmallows. Stick the marshmallows together with royal icing (and eat it when you’re done). 

A Swedish tradition, snow lanterns are made with snowballs, arranged in an inverted-bowl or a pyramid shape and hollow inside. Before you close it up, put in a lit candle or tea light. The lantern stays lit, the snow doesn’t melt, and it looks beautiful. Check it out at

If the snow is powdery or not there, you can get a similar effect with a luminaria using vellum from an art supply store. 

Listen to music

Rafter’s Tavern (Callicoon) and Cabernet Frank’s (Parksville) both, on most weekends, have live music all weekend long, most weekends. Both also have open mics—get out there and show your stuff on Sundays at Rafter’s and Thursdays at Cabernet Frank’s. The Cooperage Project (Honesdale) hosts open mic nights at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays each month. So my advice, hang out with your neighbors, support our musicians, and hear something new. 


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