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Between mouthfuls of hot soup, I shivered. I struggled to hold on to my sandwich as the cold numbed my right hand. I feared if I put it down, the bread would blow away with the next gust of wind.

A 33-degree blustery day isn’t the best time for a picnic at Hillside Park. Or anywhere else. But there I sat, at one of the green picnic tables under the lakeside pavilion, eating lunch on a Sunday afternoon in January.

You’re probably questioning my sanity.

So was I.

January is, by far, my least-favorite month.

It’s cold.

It’s damp.

It’s a monochromatic palette of depressing greys, and I despise it. Bleh.

I know; January is supposed to be all about a fresh start, a new year, a new you. It’s supposed to be an opportunity to get healthy, get in shape, rediscover yourself, build a better future, climb mountains, reach for the stars, blah, blah, blah.

But isn’t spring a better time of year for all that? When fresh grass is shooting up and replacing the white snow and brown mud with a lush layer of green? When tiny buds are popping out of long-barren tree branches? When flocks of birds are returning after their annual flight south, and once again their songs of hope fill the air?

Isn’t spring a more natural time for renewal than January, when we look out our windows at a scene of grey, and seasonal affective disorder kicks in?

Before it hit, I was looking forward to New Year’s and reaching for my resolutions. But I admit, once Jan. 1 arrived, I fell into a funk.

Maybe it was all the rain. Maybe it was the post-holidays letdown when all the excitement of Christmas and New Year’s dies away. Whatever it was, it left me mentally exhausted and unmotivated.

Maybe it was – January.

Then came Sunday afternoon.

As I drove toward the Abingtons and home, clouds opened to reveal part of a blue sky I’d nearly forgotten was there. A craving for summer hit me like a cold water balloon in July. I wanted nothing more than to go on a picnic and take a long walk in the park. And I mourned the months that would pass before I could do those things again. But then a realization hit me like a second water balloon: why can’t I have a picnic in January? Who’s stopping me?

So I took a detour to Panera in Dickson City and ordered a cup of broccoli cheddar soup and a hot sandwich, and instead of home, I went to Hillside Park.

It was colder and windier than I expected, and when I reached the pavilion, I almost turned back to eat in my warm car. But I sat down instead.

As I ate, I looked over the lake and daydreamed of summer. The lake reminded me of one good thing about January: ice skating. Perhaps the temperatures will soon drop enough to allow the lake to freeze over and open to ice skaters. I hope so. (Follow the Hillside Park Facebook page for updates.)

After shivering through my meal, I went back to the car to warm up my hands then walked one lap around the lakeside path before heading home.

Maybe I’m crazy, but it was just what I needed.

Maybe January isn’t quite so bad after all.

If you find yourself stuck in the winter blues, why not try a picnic by the lake to lift your spirits? Just be sure to dress warm and bring gloves.

Contact the writer: ebaumeister@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9185, ext. 3492