Snow dog days of winter

Last week, while driving my daughter to school, we saw a fellow take a nasty fall off his bicycle on a slippery side street. He bounced back up and when we pulled up beside him at the stop sign, I unrolled my window and asked if he was OK. Young and fit, he said, "Yeah thanks, I’m all right."

As we pulled away I told my daughter that that inquiry was on of those genuine Minnesota-nice things you should always do — even when you know the slip victim is fine. There’s nothing worse than falling on the ice and no one says anything, pretending like they didn’t notice, in order not to embarrass you.

We are in the worst part of winter and the ice, the cold, the dark are just a few of the "dependable" things we have to contend with. The holiday decorations and lights have come down, which further adds to the bleakness, and this winter we got hit harder and earlier than usual with the wicked cold temperatures, so for many of us, the winter blues have solidly arrived. And even if you are lucky enough to be going somewhere warm, the trip is probably still a month or more away.

So here’s a fairy godmother-infused list of ideas to weather these snow dog days of winter:

• Have flowers on your desk or kitchen table every day for two weeks.

• Get out that crock pot and use it! "The Fix It and Forget It" cookbook (available at Target) is the best crock pot cookbook ever and there’s nothing like coming home to a hot delicious dinner that’s ready the minute you walk in the door.

• Create endorphins, whether it’s at the gym, on skis or skates, or on the dance floor. As painful as it is to get there, once you do, you know you’ll feel good.

• Call friends or relatives in warm states and convince them that they are missing something fabulous! See if you can pull that off.

• Spend some time, even 30 minutes, at an indoor park like the Como Conservatory or Edinborough Park. Breathe in some green.

• Come up with new names for uniquely wintry things. This year, I named those ice things that build up behind the car’s wheel wells "snow boogs." We need a name for the snowy tunnel path that you shovel so the mail carrier can walk between houses directly.

• Buy one of those artificial dawning light timers. We got one this year and the light really helps getting out of bed on dark mornings. There’s an inexpensive one called Lighten Up! that works with an existing lamp (pop a full spectrum bulb in the lamp) at this website: http://humboldt1.com/~zerdo/index.htm.

• Do a quick creative project, like a puzzle or paint by numbers. It’ll kick in the "fun center" of your brain.

• Go out for umbrella drinks or Cuban food at Victors 1959 Café.

• Find a window with a patch of sunshine and sit and soak it up. The beautiful libraries, Linden Hills, Washburn, and Hosmer all have great window seating spots.

• Look at your New Year’s Resolutions and give them a boost. If you’re sticking with them, give yourself a reward. If you’re slipping, do some research to find a new spin to get back to it — maybe find a resolution buddy.

• Work the calendar. There are a lot of fun, funny, albeit obscure, holidays to enjoy in the coming weeks: National Chocolate Cake Day (Jan. 27), National Puzzle Day (Jan. 29), Thank a Mailman Day (Feb. 4), Random Acts of Kindness Day (Feb. 17), National Cherry Pie Day (Feb. 20), and National Tortilla Chip Day (Feb. 24). My 50th birthday — come by the shop for a piece of chocolate cake (Jan. 30). For the full list of bizarre and unique holidays go to www.HolidayInsights.com. In these coming weeks, may your boots be dry, your battery strong, and your spirits be light as a snowflake.

Terre Thomas lives in Lyndale and owns Fairy Godmother, a gift store in Calhoun Square.