Chickadees Stay for Winter Too: About the Winter Blues


Me with the snowbanks in Limestone, ME circa 2021. Credit: Hadley Blodgett ’26.

If you have looked outside recently you might have found yourself overjoyed by the sight of fallen snow. But with the changing season and colder weather comes a new change for some people like me. 

I grew up close to Lewiston, went to high school in northern Maine and have been dealing with snow for as long as I can remember. From walking back from my classes at 3:30 p.m. and seeing a sunset, to the ice storms that would knock out the power in my house for days; winter isn’t new for me. 

And it can be a little suffocating. There would be days when I would miss the sun, the grass beneath me, and a wide variety of bird calls in the trees above. Some days in the winter I can’t find the motivation to get out of bed and I don’t find the normal joy in things that I usually like to do. During these times winter becomes a season that turns everything into a “cold desert.” For some reason I have yet to figure out, I struggle in winter. 

But this isn’t just me. Winter can be seen as a pretty bleak season, even if you’re someone who has experienced it before. When I got to Bates, I was surprised by how many people hadn’t lived in winter, never mind seen snow. They didn’t understand when I tried to explain how I felt about winter weather. But it was what one of them said that stuck with me. 

“How could you grow up with this and not think it is the most amazing thing ever?”

That made me think. There are people who travel a long distance to ever see snow or do the things that I have access to right in my literal backyard. Even discussing this topic with one of my west-coast friends, we talked about how the change to the campus with the snow has been unexpected but positive. The new appreciation that they have gotten from a change in their schedule has taken time to get used to, but has taught them that change isn’t necessarily bad. 

I have had a change too. The past two winters I spent in the ‘county.’ The winters up north can be so cold compared to here. This is mostly why I wasn’t expecting the pure chaotic joy that spread across campus when the first substantial snowstorm hit and immediately ran outside with my friends at 11:00 p.m. to catch the flakes in our mouths. I made snow angels, shared the art of building a snow fort (I’d been perfecting since elementary school recess), warned my friends of the plow, taught them to ski, made soup to eat while we played music and watched the snow fall. 

These simple activities made me reconsider what my idea of winter was. Their child-like wonder at something that I had seen as common inspired me to try to see winter as a temporary palette cleanser. It not only has a beauty of its own, but it also gives a greater appreciation for the other seasons. Without winter, would we enjoy the other seasons as much? The variety that winter brings with it can be appreciated for some. It’s a season that can be used to reconnect with oneself internally and appreciate the quietness of winter. 

I don’t mean that the feeling around winter has completely changed, but I have been reminded of an important aspect of perspective. I can learn to find joy and inspiration in the smallest moments. If it is the way the snow shines in the sun or the way I never noticed how the trees bend with the snow on their branches I can tell that this winter will be my 19th, and at the same time my first.

Helpful tips for the winter:

  • Get the little traction grips that attach to shoes, it’ll help a lot with walking on clear ice.
  • Any opportunity to get outside during the sun hours, stay active and be outside helps a lot.
  • At the library you can rent the lights that mimic sunlight and that can be a nice companion while studying.
  • Change of scenery helps and whether it is a walk to Dunkin’ or just to a new study spot, it can make a ton of difference.
  • Do something that makes you happy. Whether it is listening to your favorite song or watching your favorite show, both can increase your serotonin levels.

Some cool winter activities:

  • Snowball fights
  • Snowshoeing/XC skiing/Downhill Skiing (Pineland Farms has many trails)
  • Tubing (There are lots of opportunities for this around this area)
  • Sledding
  • Watching dog sledding races
  • Toboggan Race (Camden)
  • Ice skating
  • Going to the ocean to walk
  • Cooking a home-cooked meal with friends
  • Hot chocolate and a movie night

If you feel like you are struggling, there are also resources at Bates Health Services that can better help. Sometimes winter can be dismal, but it’s helpful to remember that Chickadees also stay for the winter.