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Partners in Living Well: Feb. 28

From Arna Rennan

I used to think that, in general, shy people were the ones who talked about the weather, because they were searching for a topic to converse about. This year, it is the relentless headline. I have to say, I’ve been so impressed by the sensible precautions people make to stay warm, avoid hazardous driving conditions, plan ahead and closely watch weather updates. After a while, we even become proud. Proud of our endurance, smarts, hardiness and quietly smile as southern states shut down with two inches of snow. We don’t even mind the fresh layers of snow that come. Covering dirty snowbanks, the world is fresh and pure again.

Okay, I may be spinning positive thoughts where there really can’t be too many. But I thought I would share a few ideas about simple pleasures and ways to break the monotony of a seemingly endless winter.

I want to emphasize the importance of doing something different. Depending on our means, physical abilities or limitations, it may seem as though one has to resign oneself to one day not seeming very different from the other. I want to pose a challenge to our imaginations. We do have the ability to be very free and adventurous in our minds.

So scuba diving and joining the cast of a Broadway show may be out of the question. Or going on a tropical cruise. Here are some ways of simulating a similar experience.

Do you have a gold fish bowl? You can easily become Jacques Cousteau by watching fish in a bowl or tank darting around silk seaweed and a plastic pirate ship on the bottom. Is your radio on? Are you singing out loud when no one is listening? Are you waving your arms with enthusiasm? Are you rocking out on an “air guitar”? Or maybe you’ve joined the THUGs and are strumming music made for Hawaiian breezes.

Do you feel like a potted plant or are you the creator of an exotic tropical garden? What are your African violets, amaryllis, tulips or orchids doing so far north? These plants may be from faraway climes like Turkey or Hawaii! Add a big fern and you’ll be chasing monkeys and looking for parrots in no time at all in your apartment in Two Harbors.

Then there’s the spice of life. Literally. Cinnamon on your oatmeal, cayenne pepper, raisins and ginger in a stew or thyme in the pea soup. Nutmeg in meatballs, fish cakes, white sauce and more. It’s something new and maybe resembling a culinary trip to Morocco. Once again, without leaving Lake County.

Last but not least, cut some birch branches and stick them in a glass of water. In a week or so, spring will sprout as tender leaves. That’s a Lenten custom from the “Old Country”.

I want to share with you the best fortune cookie message I’ve ever received. It says: “Listen to life, and you will hear the voice of life crying, ‘Be!’” I also recently heard a song writer say: “Music is the theme song to our lives.” We all have the inherent ability to transform winter into something other than an endless, old black and white movie.

Arna Rennan is the activities director for Socially Active Seniors and writes the Partners in Living Well column with Kirsten Cruikshank.