There are two kinds of people. Either you get giddy with excitement as the latest winter storm approaches or you cringe at any news of below-freezing temperatures and impending snowstorms. Regardless of which category you fall into, surviving winter requires preparation and a mindset that embraces the positive aspects of the season.
A couple of our associates, including Minda Kuckuck and Kelsey Bigelow, are Iowa transplants and lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin, respectively. The residents of these wintry states are used to embracing five months of heavy snowfall and negative temperatures. However, Iowa has more ice than snow and more single- and double-digit temperatures than negative. So, Minda and Kelsey have learned a few things about making an Iowa winter most enjoyable:
1. Stay cozy. Your couch, a blanket, a cup of hot chocolate, and any of the latest Golden Globe winners are exactly what a winter evening calls for. It’s true, really. Try asking someone who’s done this; they most likely felt warm, fuzzy, and relaxed because of it. Take your coziness to the next level by lighting candles and throwing a few logs on the fire. If you don’t have a fireplace, you can find space heaters that mimic a fireplace. It may sound strange, but personal experience can vouch for its effectiveness.
2. Be sure to have friends nearby. Otherwise, you may end up hibernating alone for the winter. You’ll get texts saying “Wish we could, but the roads are bad,” or “It’s too cold to walk, so I’m just staying in tonight.” So make friends with your neighbors — or if you live in downtown Des Moines, befriend people within skywalking distance — because it could be a long winter without them.
3. Walk in the snow. It may sound nuts, but a light snowfall with crisp air can work wonders. Picture this: You’ve been cooped up indoors and are dragging through each day. You step outside, breathe in the snowfallen air, and feel a refreshing surge of energy fill your lungs. You’re walking along the river in a light snowfall as flakes land on your nose. It’s a nice moment Julie Andrews would sing about. A walk like that whenever you’re feeling like winter will never end can improve your mood right away.
4. Gear up for winter, seriously. Before venturing out into the great outdoors, equip yourself with the proper winter gear: a coat to keep the wind out, gloves that are effective yet functional (no need for big ol’ skiing gloves in daily life), boots with traction, and a warm hat to top it all off. Nothing ruins a winter outdoor adventure more than frozen fingers and toes.
5. Embrace comfort food. Winter is a great time to enjoy all of your favorite soup and casserole — or hot dish if you’re Minnesotan — recipes. There is nothing more inviting than coming home to the smell of soup that has been simmering all day in the crockpot. Include fresh warm bread with butter, and you have a meal that will keep you full and happy all winter long.
6. Enjoy some winter events. Des Moines is a hub for events, and winter doesn’t slow it down. The Brenton Skating Plaza lets you skate around with a beautiful view of the Des Moines skyline and rivers, and Sleepy Hollow Sports Park is a great spot for snowboarding, tubing, and sledding.
Want to stay warm? The winter farmer’s market lets you shop locally while staying warm indoors; shows at the Civic Center are never-ending and worth every second; the Botanical Garden gives you a refreshing walk in spring-like temps with fresh plants for an afternoon. And there’s so much more local entertainment if you look in the right places; it can keep those winter blues away and give you a winter to remember.
Whether you’re a transplant or native, we would love to hear how you survive an Iowa winter. Drop us a comment to share your cold-weather tips!