Milwaukee is filled with inhabitants who don’t like winter. Some people complain openly about cold weather and can’t find a snowflake-sized reason to enjoy it, but others learned to live with it and maybe even enjoy it.
The OnMilwaukee.com editors have lived in Milwaukee most of their lives, so they have a suggestion or two for how to enjoy the coldest season of the year.
Molly Snyder Edler
It took me a few decades, but I finally appreciate Wisconsin’s winters. I still don’t like the cold and icy weather, but I do appreciate how winter affects my life. I read more, I cook more, I craft more and I spend more time doing house projects. Also, I make sure my family has a couple of memberships to places like Discovery World and the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum so we have affordable entertainment options when the stir crazies set in.
How do I survive a Wisconsin winter? This blog (http://onmilwaukee.com/living/articles/coldfun.html) details a few fun ways to pass the time indoors while maintaining some semblance of a social life. Other seasonal goodies include, but are not limited to, the following: Hot cocoa spiked with whiskey or Dr. Mcgillicuddy's (vanilla flavor is best), a Northwoods weekend getaway to a cabin, and at least one night spent on the steepest sledding hill you can find. Climbing back to the top of the hill warms you up in no time.
If you don't ski, skate or like hot cocoa -- and I don't -- winter in Wisconsin can be pretty bleak. There is, however, one thing that I really don't mind. A weekend blizzard, which comes with enough advance warning that the fridge is stocked and DVDs are rented and I can simply hibernate with the family. Yes, there would be shoveling / snow blowing involved, but that's never as daunting when you don't "have" to be somewhere. When the family is at home -- safe, sound and enjoying a movie, TV show or board game -- I can bring myself to enjoy the wintery weather. Of course, if it gets ugly outside for a long time, things can quickly turn from idyllic to "The Shining."
When things get really blah, I like to use one of those tropical shots as my computer background. At least it makes me feel warmer.
Don't get me wrong, winter can be a blistery, cold burden of a season. It's just flat-out too long. But seeing as it consumes about seven months of every year, you've got find a way to love it. Some suggestions to spark that affection? All-day bowling is key. Warm comfort soups, stews and pastas. Catch up on all the movies at Landmark and Marcus Theaters. Bundle up and go hiking at the Schlitz Audubon Center or Seven Bridges. And most importantly, just keep thinking about how much fun Milwaukee is all summer long.
First of all, Milwaukee winters are pretty tame. So, one thing I always like to do is compare and contrast with areas and cities that are snowier, colder and darker. In your face, Minneapolis. Hanging out with family helps, too, as winter provides the perfect time to sit in front of the fireplace at mom and dad's, watch a game or download a movie. What else? Heated seats, Hakkapeliitta snow tires, oatmeal, long Sunday brunches, bundled-up walks and for me -- I always buy a new winter coat each season. It's a bit dorky, I know. But it gives me something to look forward to.
Although it never used to bother me all that much, I've become less and less able to manage in winter. It just drags me down mentally -- all the darkness, the cold, the snow. I loved the nice string of mild winters we had, but last year's catastrophe nearly drove me over the brink with the never-ending ice dam woes, the near-constant shoveling and the ongoing quest to find some ice melt. Although it's advice I rarely take myself, I suggest getting out of Dodge for a nice, long, warm-climate break. The only problem with that is that you might feel worse about winter once you're back! If you lack the time or funds for that, visit the Domes and spend a lot of time in the arid dome, join a gym with a whirlpool, sauna and steam room, and get yourself a big, heavy down comforter, and hibernate as best you can.
I can handle winter in Milwaukee just fine until early January. That's when the holiday buzz wears off and the cold, dark reality of the long winter really sets in -- and by February, it's close to unbearable. However, I take a four-pronged approach to dealing with it. First, I ignore winter. I don't bundle up, wear gloves or hats or acknowledge its existence until at least Dec. 1. Then, I make a point to go somewhere warm, if only for a weekend. When I get back, I mix in trips to the Domes with as many indoor hobbies as possible. And finally, by February, I begin planning the annual trip to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training. Even though that long weekend is now a mix of work and relaxation, it's still a lot warmer and sunnier than Milwaukee. I find that daydreaming about baseball in February has an amazing thawing effect.