The blah, blah winter blahs

Jason Hersey/Sun Star Columnist

It’s called the winter ‘blahs,’ and they hit hard in February. You know, that post Valentines, no sentimental holiday to look forward to, I haven’t seen the sun and it’s still fricking cold…February blahs.

It is a phenomenon that spreads itself like a rumor by the lips of old-timers, house-husbands, UAF students, and pretty much everybody else that can’t hop on a plane to a sunny and warmer place somewhere closer to the equator skipping right over this much dreaded month in Fairbanks.

The month of February in the north is like spiteful tease. She begins to display some interest after a cold, dark winter of longing for her. You know you shouldn’t let yourself buy in to her games, but you long to feel her warmth. Against your better judgement, you begin to feel assured by the little more sunshine with which she invitingly draws you in. Then…BAM! Thirty-five below for two weeks straight. She laughs; you cry.

So right about now the whisper is murmuring around town: “I’m sick of winter.” “My girlfriend left me on Valentine’s Day.” “I never had a girlfriend for Valentine’s Day.” “I have to get out of Fairbanks.” “My car can’t take another cold snap.” “I’m sick of walking to the Commons with my bunny boots and face-mask!”

Fred Meyer doesn’t even seem to know what to do with February. It’s like a sad reminder of a lonely weekend walking past their displays. Nobody wants to buy message candy hearts no matter the discount, but they can’t change the displays because they don’t know what to look forward to next. Nobody really cares about St. Patrick’s Day’s shamrock napkins right now. In fact, nobody really cares about St. Patrick’s Day until St. Patrick’s Day.

Luckily, a simple Google search has all the answers. People are quick to market the ‘blahs’ and claim to have the solutions. The Daily News-Miner reported in October 2012, to “beat the Fairbanks winter blahs” one need only to have visited a winter expo at the Carlson Center selling merchandise and sharing information on how to survive the Fairbanks winter. Let’s hope it comes around again!

Erin Kirkland in her blog “KTD on the Go!” touts the Alaska Ski Train, which leaves out of Anchorage, is “meant simply to transport skiers and snowshoers with a serious case of winter blahs to a remote destination for a few hours of breaking trail.”

Bethel Church invites women to “brave the cold and beat the winter blahs with an evening of music, fun and dessert” on Feb. 21. Even the Amarillo Bulls Hockey Club of Amarillo, Texas invites you to come check out the game and “take some of the winter blahs away.” Wait. Winter blahs in Amarillo, Texas, seriously?

Five quick suggestions to “beat the winter blahs” by PsycheCentral:

1. Know your body. Circadian rhythms and melatonin levels change with lack of sunlight which result in tiredness and lethargy.

2. Regular physical activity! Enough said.

3. Put variety in your foods. More protein and veggies, less carbs and sugar. 4. Socialize, socialize, socialize! Get your buddy out of that dark cabin and make him go to the dump with you or something. 5. Pamper yourself. This doesn’t mean eat yourself into a chocolate abyss (see #3).

One last piece of advice from a trusted colleague is this: “Don’t make any major life altering decisions in February!” Or do, but don’t blame it on the winter blahs.

Remember, spring will come my friends. Don’t let yourself believe that it will be anytime soon, though. Hunker down a little longer so as not to get your hopes up for frigid disappointment. It could be worse. We could be like that town in Norway that had to install giant mirrors to reflect sunlight to their town square because the mountain nearby shades everything for six months out of the year.

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2 Responses

  1. mike blise says:

    Stumbled upon your article while seeing a link to the Mighty Dome ice arch. It caught my eye because of the extreme winter we are experiencing this year here in Wisconsin. We have had above normal snowfall totals and the piles next to our driveways are rather tall, but the real story has been the cold. Every one is complaining and tired of it. That usually happens every year about this time, but there seems to be no let up this year. The blahs have a stranglehold on us. We usually get some thawing days during the winter, where we can chip away the ice and reclaim our sidewalks and driveways, but not this one.

    We are at 45 days and still counting that our temps have dropped below zero this season, and it is continuing. Looks like by this weekend we will break our all time record of 48 days. Normal is about 15 days. On Thursday we might have another day where we don’t get above zero all day, that would be the latest into the year for that ever.

    I don’t mind running outside with temps that drop into the teens, but we aren’t seeing enough of that so I’m going a bit stir crazy running circles inside around a track and riding my bike on an indoor trainer. It’s not exciting when you don’t really get anywhere. Even though the sun is getting a bit higher, the mercury does not agree.

    Now I understand while you are reading this, these stats are not very impressive stacked up against Fairbanks standards. It seems like you are the source for the polar vortex that keeps dipping southward. But that is my point, it is all relative. Somewhere it is colder than what we are experiencing, here in WI we can generally say at least it’s not as cold as Fairbanks. I’m not sure where you look on a map for that place, but it must exist for you as well.

    The interesting thing is why we choose to stay. I had a co-worker from Atlanta who visited WI recently for the first time in his life. I’m sure he wondered why we continue to live here. It was in the 60’s and 70’s there last week. Why do we stay in this arctic locker? It must be what we’ve grown accustomed to, and the nearby family, friends and surroundings that make us feel warm inside. And how amazing it feels when spring finally does arrive. Even if that takes until June this year.

    Keep warm and hang in there, and remember you’re not alone.

  2. Jason Hersey says:

    Hey Mike,

    Thanks for reading! I have been so intrigued with the midwest/Lakes area this winter. It sounds crazy!

    The truth is our winter has been extremely mild in comparison. The warmest I have ever experienced. Normally we get a few different cold spells at -40 that could last one or two weeks. However, this winter we have only seen about 3 days or so reach those temps. It is supposed to be above freezing multiple days this week, and there has already been quite a few days of freezing rain, melting, etc… This is not normal. Scary really.

    Anyway, I agree with you when you talk about reasons to stay. I have really grown to love this community in my 10+ years and yet to find a place that brings me the same satisfaction. Even with these cold, dark and oftentimes dreary moments of winter.


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