Go chop down a tree, or something

Photo by Aislinn Sarnacki. Sunlight fights through the thick canopy of Birdsacre Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary on Nov.25, 2011.

Do you love the outdoors — but only when the sun is shining and it’s summer? I’m not about to come down on you. I was the same way, until I learned that being active in the winter makes the season feel a lot shorter. I also realized that if I plan on staying in Maine, I don’t want to be depressed for five months out of the year because I’m stuck inside.

There’s a theory: If you smile, even when you aren’t happy, it makes you happier. My mother passed the method down to me, actually, and I believe that it works.

I have a similar theory for enjoying the Maine winter. If you get outside and snowshoe or cross-country ski or just go for a stroll, if you just pretend to enjoy the snowy landscape, eventually, you actually will enjoy the winter.

I understand that it’s cold. So wear a lot of clothing. Bundle up. Look like a marshmallow man. That way, if you take a fall while trying to learn how to cross-country ski, you won’t even get hurt. And you’ll soon find out that movement heats up your body. As you cross a field in the winter sun, you’ll be wishing you’d worn less.

You don’t have to be a ski bum or spend a lot of money take on a gear-bedazzled sport. Rent cross-country skis, boots and poles for three hours for just $7 at the University of Maine in Orono.

One of my favorite outdoor activities for this time of year isn’t a sport at all, though it can get competitive. Since childhood, I’ve visited Piper Mountain Christmas Trees farm in Newburgh to cut down a tree with my family and friends. After walking fields of evergreen, I wander the gift store and pick up a complementary donut and cup of hot cider. Searching for a holiday tree doesn’t require a lot of exertion, but it’s a great way to embrace the frozen world, or at least give it a small hug.

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.