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Living Well with Joey M. Robinson

"The Blue and White Season"

Of course winter is the least favorite season known to man, but we all learn to manage our way through it. I grew up with winter and learned to embrace it in many ways.

My mother encouraged my brother and me to ice skate. We were fortunate to have a skating rink in Branch Brook Park, right across the street from our home in Newark.

We would wait patiently until our local junior ice hockey team finished their practice and then we would hit the ice with zest.

After two maybe three vigorous hours of skating we would refuel with hot chocolate and cookies. As I got older I found other activites to occupy the cold blue winter months. My teenage friends and I would entertain ourselves with chili cook-off competitions and games of backgammon that kept us off the streets and out of trouble.

Since then I have spent winter in many regions of the country, but my favorite winters were spent in Seattle. Yes, it's true—coffee can help keep you highly entertained and motivated.

When you're experiencing eight months of misty Northwest rain and chill, there's nothing like the warm embrace of a cozy coffee shop and a hot cup of your favorite brew. Fireplaces, newspapers, magazines, over-stuffed chairs, tasty pastries, fabulous coffees, and interesting people to share tales and world views with. I have met and kept many friends in Seattle this way.

This is now my second winter in Chicago. Yes, it's cold, and unlike Seattle in winter, there is no green to compensate for gloomy skies.

But the cold weather is bracing. I love taking long walks in snowy parks and resting my thoughts on frozen lakes. As an artist, I return to my studio and spend longer hours creating than I do when summer distractions abound.

Those who run to warmer climates when winter comes miss the quiet blue and white season of reflection and renewal and the warmth of home and hearth. Keep the fires burning.