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Don't Let the Cold Scare You Off

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip for January, 2007

I'm writing this on December 18, and as of today we have only had one light dusting of snow, less than half an inch and gone in an hour or two--rather unusual this late into the season in rural Massachusetts. Some years, we hardly see the lawn from early December until late March.

But no matter what the weather, we're outside. Rain, snow, sleet, beautiful sunshine...it doesn't matter. You see, we have a 70-pound husky-shepherd mix that we jokingly refer to as our "personal trainer." And we take him out for 20 to 60 minutes every day. When the weather's bad, it's closer to 20 than 60--but when it's nice out, we'll stretch it as long as our workloads and schedules allow.

And I have to tell you that outing is usually one of the highlights of my day. You can't get any more basic frugal fun than simply taking a walk outside with your powers of observation turned on...at any time of the year.

Even if I'm walking fast enough to get my heart rate up pretty high (and I try to make my hike as aerobic as possible)--I still manage to notice the beauty around me. Now, before there's snow on the ground, I might spot a clearing with five or ten different grasses and mosses, each in its own lovely shade of green...or a black mushroom cap that's been upended, and whose spines radiate out like some kind of heavenly mandala...a few drops of rainwater on a fallen leaf, catching the sun in a sparkle as bright as any diamond...the amazing and intricate constructions of a spider web (yes, we still see a few this time of year)...

Once there's snow on the ground, the whole aura of the woods is simply magical. It's one of the most beautiful times of year, and if I'm dressed for it, I find the cold air invigorating. Before we had the dog, I rarely walked in the winter, and certainly not in the woods. But it's a daily occurrence, and I think if we didn't have the dog, I'd have to invent him--just to get outside for a little bit each day.

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