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Dealing with the stir crazies

Winter hit us hard. No sooner did the calendar skip past Dec. 21 than we got smacked with an ice storm followed by a couple of snow storms. Massive power outages, huge dig out efforts, driving and travel hassles.

The phrase you kept hearing on the news was, 'If you don't have to be on the roads, stay home.' Those words were repeated for good reason. They needed to be repeated. Being stuck in your house for weeks on end can seem nice at first, but then it takes a nasty turn. 

Now that the clouds have parted for a moment, let's look at some of the things that you can do to beat the winter blues.

Start the countdown

The darkest days are behind us. Though it may seem foolish to start looking forward to spring (and in my book, it's never too soon to start looking for spring), counting the added minutes of daylight can help you cope with the bleakness. Check out and enter in your city, state and country and it will tell you how many hours and minutes of daylight you can enjoy each day (8 hours and 15 minutes, as of Jan. 10 by the time this hits the stands that number will have gone up to 8 hours and 26 minutes! Yeah, baby!).

Plan for what you would like to do with the extra time whether you plan on a hike or just basking in it like a cat those extra minutes add up.


Embrace it

Many of us have lived in Maine for some time. We still complain about the weather, but we are aware that winter is something that happens annually and takes over almost half of the year. I will probably never love winter completely, but I have come to appreciate some of its charm.

Winter hikes can really help you appreciate what this time of year has to offer in the way of beauty.  Despite having lost power for almost as week, I still couldn't help but enjoy how the trees looked with the sun shining through the ice.

Getting outside may seem impossible, but it's truly not. This time of year offers great opportunities to go cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowmobiling and more. Many of these items can be rented if you don't wish to invest in owning them, but in all honestly, a little upfront cost for finding a great new, healthy hobby can be worth it.

Maine boasts approximately 14,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. These are cared for by volunteers at local snowmobile clubs. Find a club near you to learn about the trails and local regulations. It can be a fun new way to see the countryside, make new friends, and of course, get out of the house.

Many trails are impassible after a heavy snowfall until you have the right equipment. Cross country skis and snowshoes offer a relatively inexpensive way of accessing the countryside and help you meet some of your New Year's resolutions.

There is a wonderful site,, that lists great places to do many of these activities in your area. They have a great compilation of all manner of outdoor winter activities, links to websites and costs. 

And don't forget to feed your inner child. Find a decent hill, bust out the sled and tear up the slopes. Hermon Mountain, in addition to downhill skiing, offers a chance to go tubing (it had been recently closed due to the rain but should re-open on Jan. 15 hey, that's today!).

If you're a serious sledder, you may want to check out the U.S. National Toboggan Championships that are being held at the Camden Snow Bowl on Feb. 7, 8 and 9. It's fun for the whole family whether you're going down the chute or you're watching others take the plunge.

A night on the town

Bangor and Ellsworth have wonderful activities for adults and people with families. Whether you want to catch some live theatre, listing to the symphony, or check out a museum, there is a lot to do. Here are a few things that you can still check out this time of year. In addition to the countless restaurants that carry great food and beverages, there are many things to do and see even in this cold season.


Penobscot Theatre

The world premiere of 'One Blue Tarp' will be performed at the Penobscot Theatre from Jan. 30 to Feb. 16. This play by Travis Baker was written and developed for Penobscot Theatre's Northern Writes New Play Festival in 2010, and was named Best Play for the State of Maine in the 2013 Clauder New England Playwright Competition.

For ticket information, visit

Maine Discovery Museum

There is always something going on at the Maine Discovery Museum. If you and your kids are bouncing off the walls, maybe you just need to change the walls. Whether it's art projects, learning about the Chinese New Year, making box-o-ramas, or learning about winter ecology, there's lots to do and lots to learn. Find out their entire schedule of events at

The Bangor Symphony Orchestra

Check out Journeys at the Collins Center for the Arts on Jan. 19 where Anonymous 4, a vocal quartet led by conductor Lucas Richman, will perform.  On Feb. 1, you can enjoy 'The Pops: The Music of John Williams' also at the Collins Center.

University of Maine Museum of Art

Winter Exhibitions are opening on Jan. 17. Maine-based artists Kenny Cole's interactive art-installation 'Parabellum (Prepare for War)' will be on display. New York City-based artist Hannah Cole's exhibit 'Time's Wife' who captures overlooked objects in our urban existence and recreates them in paint. And you have a chance to experience classic works in the exhibit 'From Piransesi to Picasso.' Sixty of the finest prints from the Museum of Art's permanent collection will be on display at the University of Maine's Museum of Art. Admission is free, so there's really no reason to miss it.

Check them out at

The Grand

Do you live in Hancock County and find traveling to Bangor especially in this weather - to be a bit much? Don't worry, The Grand has you covered. They have something going on every weekend and throughout the week. Here's a sampling of what's coming:

The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Maine present 'Princess Ida' a comic-opera. 

On Jan. 24, enjoy 'To Warm a Winter's Night III,' where four local bands play to raise money to benefit the WHCA Heating Assistance Program. Playing are MacLir, Trish Mason, Bonnie Lane and The Crown Vics.

On Jan. 25 catch 'The General' with Buster Keaton, who plays a railroad engineer in love with his train engine, with live orchestral music by TEMPO. 

The BANFF Mountain Film Festival will be playing on Jan. 31.

And all of that is just the end of January. If you want to see everything they're up to check them out at

When out' isn't an option

Sometimes you just get stuck at home. Whether it's an impassible driveway, a dead car battery or just a really bad idea to go out at all, you have to stay home even when home is making you nuts.

But you may be able to stave off the crazy by rethinking your options. If you still have power, things are easier. You can do a YouTube or Pinterest search of fun things to do with items you already own. Find new rules for old board games, read a book, catch up on that show you heard about years ago and suddenly have time to watch.

Or just snuggle up, have some hot chocolate (with or without booze) and wait for it to start warming up. In just a few weeks, we'll be finding out what the groundhog says.

Last modified on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 01:24


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