I’ve found that certain things we were told in high school have stuck with me throughout my life.

For instance, a teacher asked our class how many of us felt we were different than other people, that we were unique in some way. Many of us raised our hands.

Actually, he said, we human beings are more alike than we are different.

In that vein, I’m thinking I can’t be the only one finding this winter of 2024 dreary because of so many cloudy days occurring one after another.

My father used to talk about the barometric pressure and how, when it was low, he felt low. When it was high and the sun was shining, he’d say: “Gee, isn’t it great to see the sun?”

I found myself uttering those same words this week, as we tooled along the interstate from Waterville to Augusta, donning sunglasses for the first time in forever, it seemed.


What can we do when the gloomy days drag on, short of booking a trip to the tropics (in a plane whose door might fly off)?

Some people ski, skate, shovel snow, socialize and volunteer, among other things.

As one who empathizes with those who fall prey to cabin fever, I offer my own humble list of antidotes:

First, keep a schedule. Rise early, and prepare for the day, even if it holds no obligations or appointments. Something is bound to come up.

Be productive. Plan to perform at least one chore each day, no matter how small, such as cleaning out a closet or organizing a junk drawer. It will prompt a feeling of satisfaction.

Every day, read a newspaper, to keep up to date on what’s happening in the world (however dreadful), and then, read a book that educates or takes you away to another place rife with colorful landscapes and characters. The better the book, the more you will yearn to open it the next day. It’s something to look forward to.


Exercise, also every day. Bundle up and walk, no matter the temperature. Even 15 minutes once or twice a day serves as balm to the soul.

Watch an old movie. It will lend perspective and insight into how filmmaking has progressed over the years, and how the world has changed.

Bake or cook something that poses a challenge. I made deep-fried doughnuts last weekend, using my mother’s recipe. They were not perfect like Mom’s, but they were pretty good and the kitchen smelled heavenly, just like hers, for a day.

There are many things we can do to help ward off the doldrums on a cloudy winter day in Maine, such as making deep-fried doughnuts from Mom’s old recipe, according to Amy Calder. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

Take a drive. It doesn’t have to be anywhere in particular and you’d be surprised where it will take you. We did that one day and ended up at the Sheepscot General Store and Farm in Whitefield, where we bought home-baked bread and cookies, French wine and organic carrots.

Talk to your cat, dog, horse, or whatever animal might be in close proximity. They won’t talk back, but you’ll reap the rewards of their affections. And get your worries off your chest.

I consider a trip to Marden’s Surplus & Salvage, Renys, a bookstore or antiques shop a form of entertainment, even if I don’t buy anything. A museum visit (Colby College Museum of Art has free admission) serves to educate and enlighten. It also feeds the spirit.

Lastly, do something to help feed someone else’s. Send a birthday, sympathy or get-well card — or write a letter. Invite friends or family to dinner. Nothing cures the blues better than an evening of good food, friends and plenty of laughter.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 35 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She is the author of the book, “Comfort is an Old Barn,” a collection of her curated columns, published in 2023 by Islandport Press. She may be reached at acalder@centralmaine.com. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com

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