25 Things We Love About Winter. For Real.

From the January 9, 2014 edition

Oh geez, guys. Wind Chill-acolypse 2014 was sort of a bummer in all the worst ways, especially for those of us who had to work Monday and Tuesday. But it wasn’t all bad. In fact, Wind Chill-acolypse 2014 reminded us of a lot of things we actually love about winter in Columbus. Like beards and books and stouts! Oh my! Think of this as a sort of mental health survival guide: Just focus on the good stuff till the bad stuff goes away. Eventually you’ll convince yourself you really do love winter (mind tricks!).

Stocking caps/hat hair

Some people are blessed with great hair. For others like myself, it exists as more of a curse — a tangled mess of cowlicks and male-pattern baldness. But when the temperature drops and stocking caps become essential, oh is it sweet to watch better-coifed coworkers struggle to tame their unruly locks. Welcome to my world, punks. —Andy Downing

Pro-tip: Shave/buzz your head and you’ll never have to worry about hat hair. This look can also work for our female readers (see: Natalie Portman in “V for Vendetta”).

Winter fashion

When it comes to style, my philosophy has always been more is more. So any time the weather gives me a chance to layer on the scarves, boots, gloves, hats, headbands and moto jackets, count me in. Since most of my clothes are black, not having to worry about the heat while styling outfits makes life a million times easier. Winter clothing typically has more structure and is made with higher quality fabrics, so I gravitate toward winter styles. I’m always more excited about breaking out the leather outerwear than I am breaking out the sandals. —Abernathy Miller

Pro-tip: Make sure to use protectant spray on your boots. The slush will ruin the heel area and the toe, leaving your shoes a mangled mess.

Layers like woah!

While some of us at Alive love winter for its fashion, I prize the practicality it inspires (y’all know how the Midwest is, functionality FTW!). As the adage goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. The game-changer for me was the realization a few years ago that I should be wearing two pairs of pants anytime the temperature dips below 40. I haven’t been cold since. —Justin McIntosh

Pro-tip: Skip the long johns and aim for breathable running tights. They’re usually thinner and will keep you more comfortable throughout the day.

Skipping the blade

The unfortunate hipster-fication of beards belies their practicality. Our city’s recent plummet to ungodly levels of cold proved that facial hair follicles aren’t just fashion accessories, they’re necessities. Alive’s female staffers assure me this is just as relevant for the ladies as it is the dudes. So, people of Columbus, go ahead, skip that shave. Your very survival might depend on it. —Justin McIntosh

Pro-tip: If you prefer your body’s natural facial protector to look a little tidier (and you should), opt for a beard oil, or make your own from a recipe online.

Club shows

Some people love the summer concert season, when bands flock to outdoor stages at daylong festivals like Comfest, ignoring everything from the omnipresent threat of sunburn to the fact the sound typically sucks at these events. Give me the winter club scene where the shows are more intimate and the thought of an audience’s collective body heat actually sounds somewhat appealing. —Andy Downing

Pro-tip: Leave the bulky winter coat at home and dress in layers. It’s easier to tie an extra hooded sweatshirt (or two) around your waist than to be stuck clutching a jacket the size of a sleeping bag.

Winter music

The red-headed stepchild of seasonal music deserves more love and affection. You can have your bubble-gum pop summer jams, I’ll take my slightly depressing and weightier winter albums that have just enough beauty to perfectly complement the winter wonderland outside. Like, for instance, Damien Jurado’s latest, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son, which was streaming on NPR’s website Monday and which, subsequently, kept at bay my own inner blues at being subjected to actual, you know, work while friends toiled at home warm and snug on the couch. Bah humbug indeed. —Justin McIntosh

Pro-tip: Vinyl is perfect for winter listening. It keeps you actively engaged every 15-20 minutes, for one, but it also simply sounds richer. Plus, any excuse to sit still and listen to music for an hour at a time is one I’ll gladly take.

Curling up with a good book

In the summer months I feel guilty spending my time reading rather than doing something active like hitting the trails for a long bike ride. Not so in the winter, when wrapping up in a blanket with a good book and a hot cup of tea constitutes a relaxing evening. I expect to spend the next week or so immersed in “I’ll Take You There,” the new biography on Mavis Staples penned by longtime Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot. —Andy Downing

Pro-tip: Yes, e-readers are all the rage these days, but I still like actual books, and there’s no better spot in the city to browse for reading material than German Village’s sprawling Book Loft, 631 S. Third St.

Oscar nomination rereleases

I’ve thought the Academy Awards were kind of a joke since “Forrest Gump” beat “Pulp Fiction” and “The Shawshank Redemption” for Best Picture, but at least the nominations push some good movies you may have missed back into theaters. Plus, it’s kinda fun to see as many of the nominees as you can. That way you can complain better. — Brad Keefe

Pro-tip: This may be your last chance to see “Gravity” in 3D. You will never understand what the big deal is if you do not do so.

Staying in for good TV

One of the best ways to avoid the bitter cold is to hibernate all winter. To keep from going stir crazy, take advantage of all the great winter TV; popular series “Community,” Justified,” “Archer” and “Girls” all return in early January, and new HBO series “True Detective” premieres that month too. Sports fans also get the best football of the year with the NFL playoffs and (a predicted freezing) Super Bowl outdoors in New Jersey. — Jesse Tigges

Pro tip: FX’s “The Americans,” one of the most underrated and best shows on TV right now, returns Feb. 26.

Sampling winter brews at The Crest

When the temperatures plummet few things are as warming as a good, dark beer sipped in a lively tavern. The Crest and its ever-rotating beer menu has become a staple for me and my wife, allowing us to sample a wide array of winter warmers, oatmeal stouts and Russian imperial stouts from a range of regional and international breweries. Save the IPAs and ales for the summer; early sunsets demand an equally dark beer. —Andy Downing

Pro-tip: The Crest can get insanely crowded on weekends, so allow for an hour-plus wait if you can’t make it there before 6:30 p.m. or so. Also, the bar area is first-come-first-served, so keep an eye out for empty seats while waiting for a table.

Mac’s chili

Mac’s Cafe in the Short North has some amazing pub food year round, but on frigid winter nights their hearty chili is the only thing that can melt through the layer of ice on myheart. —Abernathy Miller

Pro-tip: Add some sour cream and complement the chili with a brew.

Brothers Drake mead

I’m not much of a mead drinker. In fact, when I drink I go straight for the hard stuff. I skip the beer and wine all together. But in the winter, I want something warm, oaky and full bodied to take away the chill (and maybe the edge, depending on how bad Downtown traffic was that day). Enter Brothers Drake Honey Oak mead. The oak aging adds a nice twist on the otherwise traditional mead. Plus, all the honey comes from Marysville! —Abernathy Miller

Pro-tip: Check out Brothers Drake on Wednesdays for jazz.

Strongwater Rye

Franklinton’s Strongwater Food and Spirits (401 W. Town St.) is nearly ready with the kitchen, so the “Food” part is fast approaching, but I’m already in love with the “Spirits.” Their signature liquor is an infusion of Bulleit Rye with port-brined peppercorns and habenero peppers, which give it a great little fiery afterburn. Perfect for when you need a warm-up. — Brad Keefe

Pro-tip: Ask your bartender to sub the Strongwater Rye in their Franklinton Mule. It’s my new go-to drink.

Grilled cheese and soup at Si Señor

Winter is grilled cheese and soup season wherever you may go, but Downtown lunchers should add an unexpected spot to that list, Latin sandwich specialist Si Señor. Their grilled cheese blends sharp cheddar and provolone with their fantastic homemade tomato jam, bacon and sliced jalepeno. Combine it with the soup of the day and you’ll leave warm, full and happy. — Brad Keefe

Pro-tip: Ignore this advice if you go on Friday. Friday is fish taco day. You want the fish tacos. Trust me.

Those weird weekends where it’s suddenly, like, 70 degrees

As the adage goes, if you don’t like the weather here, wait five minutes. While you’re swirling in an Arctic vortex, take heart in the fact that there is sure to be one or two weekends of freakishly unseasonable warmth. Casual cyclists pull their bikes out of hibernation. Columbus patios bloom like spring flowers. And you forget your plans to move somewhere warmer. — Brad Keefe

Pro-tip: Soak up every moment when this happens, because we’re just as likely to have a snowstorm in May.

Sledding

Reliving childhood joys is always a great way to enjoy these freezing months (see also: snowman building and/or snowball fights). And being active is an ideal way to keep warm. Personally I’ll get to re-experience sledding with my daughter, which enhances the endeavor. It helps she’s a little daredevil who’s a big fan of crashing/falling off the sled. — Jesse Tigges

Pro-tip: Pack hot chocolate for the wee ones and hot toddies for adults.

Driving in the snow

Unlike most folks in Columbus, I actually know how to drive in the snow — not too slow, and with the utmost caution — and actually quite enjoy it. It probably stems from my four-wheeling roots growing up in Kentucky, and it’s a similar bit of an adrenaline rush chugging through the powder. — Jesse Tigges

Pro-tip: Turn into the skid and accelerate.

Witnessing slip ’n’ falls

One of the most hilarious aspects of winter is seeing people bite it on the ice. Yes, it’s a bit sadistic, but c’mon, watching a person go fully parallel to the pavement is impossible to not laugh at. And even if you’re the one who falls, it’s still pretty funny (once the stinging wears off). — Jesse Tigges

Pro-tip: The Short North during a snowy/icy Saturday is ideal for slip ’n’ fall watching — usually due to intoxication.

Outdoor grilling

Everyone grills in the summertime. It takes Ron Swanson-like fortitude to fire up the charcoal in a snowstorm. In the winter I tend to keep things simple — think steak or burgers rather than beer-can chicken — because nobody wants to huddle around a grill for hours in sub-zero temperatures. Even so, there’s something inherently satisfying about taking to the outdoors to cook at a time when most people huddle inside. —Andy Downing

Pro-tip: If you’re going to cook outdoors you might as well splurge on a good piece of meat. We recommend scoping out the butcher counter at Lucky’s Market, 2770 N. High St. in Clintonville.

Snow days/snow emergencies (which happen often here)

Even if there is a freak 60 degree weekend in mid-December, that in no way rules out a level 2 snow emergency three days later. Ohio weather is a fickle lady, and though her mood swings cause many woes, sometimes there’s a silver lining. There’s nothing like watching daytime TV gems like Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos in your pajamas on a Wednesday because your job closed for the day due to weather. —Abernathy Miller

Pro-tip: Always have a can of SpaghettiOs on stand-by in the event there is a miracle and work is closed due to the weather. “The Price is Right” is NOT the same without SpaghettiOs.

Feeling like a badass

Complaining about the cold is for chumps. Sometimes you just have to look Mother Nature in the eye, call her a ponce and go for a run. Your badass levels will see an immediate spike and, trust me, that carries over into, like, life stuff. Call it stupidity or stubbornness if you will, but I’m not about to let a few snow flurries and freezing temperatures derail me from what I want to do when and where I want to do it. —Justin McIntosh

Pro-tip: Ask your boss for that raise after a three-mile run in freezing temperatures. Your confidence will never be higher.

Blue Jackets making a playoff run (again)

It’s been a lot of tough luck for the Jackets — Marion Gaborik breaking his collarbone in his first game back from an injury comes to mind — but with a bunch of hockey left to play, they’re a hot streak away from playoff contention. The team managed to stay afloat during the absence of star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who finally returned to action this week. This could get interesting. — Brad Keefe

Pro-tip: Make friends with a season-ticket holder now. They’ll get first crack at playoff tickets, as well as tickets for the 2015 All-Star Game.

Buckeyes basketball

I’m not much of an OSU football fan, but get me to the Schott for some hoops and I’ll jump up and down to The White Stripes with the rest of The Nuthouse — even from the nosebleeds. In Buckeye hoops-land, the start of a new calendar year is always the best, as it finally brings some (mostly) competitive games to town thanks to the Big Ten schedule. The promise of March Madness just around the corner is even more alluring, especially with Nationwide playing host to the early rounds of the NCAA tournament. —Justin McIntosh

Pro-tip: I don’t mind a short jaunt in the cold, so I usually park on Neil (it’s generally free and doesn’t require a permit) and pre-game at the Varsity Club.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Open House

Each year the King Arts Complex hosts an open house filled with activities to celebrate the civil rights leader. The day offers a host of happenings including musical and live theater performances, films and video presentations, educational offerings about the civil rights movement, hands-on studio art activities and art exhibitions. It’s a great way to make the most of one of the few winter days-off. — Jesse Tigges

Pro-tip: Stop by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Breakfast at the Columbus Convention Center from 7-10 a.m.

Winter dance parties

When you’re six Jamesons deep, the body heat generated by droves of undulating hipsters at one Columbus’ many weekly dance parties can be a bit much. All the hot girls with their hoola-hoops use their body heat (and their powers for dancing in circles facing each other) to turn the bar into a sauna, especially during a humid Ohio-summer night. That’s why I prefer to reach for my dancing shoes once the temperature drops. Whether you go to Heatwave! at Ace of Cups, Juicy and/or Thump at Circus or any other EDM fete, the dance party is always better when you can breathe in cool air that doesn’t smell like patchouli and bad decisions. Plus, the windows fog up and people on the street can’t see you dancing like an asshole while you’re shoulders-deep in your K-hole. Bonus. —Abernathy Miller

Pro-tip: Dress in layers, and don’t get in a K-hole.