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Count your Blessings Innkeeper Blog: Learning to Love Winter

Innkeeper Shelly At San Juan Island in collection

How a Former Sun Worshipper Learned to Embrace the Colder Months

by Innkeeper Shelley Klausen

Well into my 40s, my idea of ideal climate involved sun, swimming, and cold beer. All I needed was a lake, ocean, or river to dive in to and I was in heaven. I was never prepared for winter and cursed the day that I had to switch my shorts and tank tops for long pants and sweaters.

Summers in the Sun

When I was a little kid, my parents’ friends called my brother and I toe-heads and water babies…little sprites that went shoeless and shirtless at our lake cabin in Eastern Washington. In junior high, an annual road trip to my Aunt Zenith’s L.A. bungalow meant days spent body surfing at Huntington Beach. As a teenager, hanging out all day/every day at my neighbor’s pool was where you would find me. Before the days of sunscreen and holes in the ozone layer, I used Johnson’s Baby Oil to turn my ashen winter skin the glorious color of a medium rare steak. Into adulthood, my annual vacation was spent in tropical locales: Hawaii, Mexico, California, Belize, and Panama. I mean, why on earth would I spend valuable time and money to take a cold-weather holiday?

Those Crazy Southerners

When I was eight, living in Utah, my parents naturally insisted that my brother and I learn to ski. Every weekend they made the slippery drive from Salt Lake City to Park City to make me wear uncomfortable boots and scratchy bib overalls that were hard to walk in. I secretly hated it. I have friends that live in southern places that never experience blizzards or black ice. They live sticky humid existences free of white Christmases and dressing in layers. For them, a trip north to play in the snow is welcome relief. “Are they crazy!?” I used to think. Who in their right mind welcomes wool clothing and frostbite?

Embracing My Most-Hated Season

But something changed my mind over the past five years. Maybe that something is innate and natural, or perhaps it’s a revision in attitude. Whatever it is, I semi-consciously made the decision to love winter — to embrace what I can only experience when it’s cold outside and to look more closely at how the earth’s seasonal changes affect my own internal clock.

As I’ve matured, there is something about the melancholiness of winter that offers reflection and introspection. I now love to bundle up and stand into a brisk wind, whether on the high desert of northern New Mexico or on the western shore of San Juan Island, and feel grateful. For me, winter is a time of planning. It’s a time to look ahead into the new year and make plans for what I wanSnowflake Cookiesng. In February, Patrick and I will be vacationing in the mild climates of Morocco and Spain, not the tropics of Central or South America — a first for us. As I age, I’m looking forward to less tourists and more clothing.

Don’t get me wrong, I still hate when I am prematurely reminded that winter is coming. Holiday music in September, aisles of Christmas decorations in October, and ads for studded tires in November all work to ruin my love of fall. But when the frost decorates my garden and the smells of homemade bread waft from the kitchen, I begin to feel truly blessed that coldest season of the year is on its way. 


The Blessings that Winter Brings to Me

  1. The wind
  2. Clear skies
  3. Brilliant stars
  4. Gatherings with family and friends
  5. Comfort food
  6. Hikes and snowshoeing
  7. Time to be creative
  8. Birds and winter wildlife
  9. Football
  10. Fleece everything

Guilty Winter Pleasure: A recent trip to watch the Seahawks beat the 49ers:



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