The Simple Joys of Spring Approaching

Would springtime be special if not for the vast contrast with winter? It’s not spring yet, but there some encouraging signs. It has been almost a week since any snow has fallen, and the daytime temperatures have been above freezing for a solid five days! It feels so good!

I still have to wait for the snow to melt, but I am itching to go for a hike, run, canoeing, anything outdoors! I have been deprived. But would I be so excited about doing these things if I did not live in a frozen wasteland for half the year?

I have considered the possibility that I might let years go by without canoeing if I lived in a warmer climate, because the opportunity is always available, so there is no urgency. In Massachusetts on the other hand, there is a clear marker every year at the start of canoeing season.

These past few days would have been the coldest of the year in Georgia, and felt miserable by comparison. But here, they are the warmest days in months, and make it feel like the tropics. I still plan to move south. I will just make sure to spend a few days or weeks in the north each year, in order to garner my appreciation for warm weather. I just can’t handle being cold for half the year and stuck inside, when everything I love to do is outdoors.

Still, the enchantment of spring is a pretty good consolation prize. There’s that wet dirt smell of melting snow that tells you some plants are going to start peaking through the surface. A slight breeze no longer makes you recoil and crunch up inside your coat like a turtle. There is even a chance to soak up some warmth from the sun, which seemed like a cruel taunter in the sky for the previous frigid months.

I was just saying in the last post how quickly we get used to things, so I do worry a bit that down south in the warmer weather, I might become complacent, and no longer have an appreciation for spring riding in like the cavalry. But then the prospect of constant warmth is so inviting!

And I suppose down south there are still plenty of changes, like the greening of the scenery. And that might be the worst part about Massachusetts; even in May, things are just starting to look pretty again. Well I will have to make sure I appreciate the transition of seasons this year, since if all goes to plan, this will have been my last full winter in New England.

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Going on the Offensive When I Start Feeling Sick

I never remember how awesome it feels to be healthy until I get sick. What is the deal with getting sick in the summer anyway? I spend sufficient time outside and doing physical things. I’m not as cooped up as in the winter, fewer people around me in general are sick. Oh well, I guess it happens. I am determined to remind myself how good I feel everyday when I am not sick, and make sure I appreciate and enjoy the feeling!

It is day 3 and I am already feeling a lot better, which is encouraging since yesterday I had that muscle soreness flu like symptom. I attribute my quick recovery when I am sick to the fact that I go on the offensive as soon as I start to feel under the weather. And If it isn’t the things I eat and drink that makes me recover quickly, it must be the placebo effect, which would actually mean we have a lot of power with our minds to affect our health.

I start with echinacea, which is just a plant; I get it ground up and stuck into some capsules. It is reported to be an immune system booster. While there is apparently not a huge amount of research on whether or not echinacea can help with colds and common sickness, some studies and anecdotal evidence suggest it has benefits. And it is pretty safe to use, even if it doesn’t have benefits; though according to Web MD it could concentrate caffeine in your system by slowing down its metabolization, and there is a slight possibility for other mild side effects. I have never experienced anything negative about echinacea though, and a couple times when I have felt some sickness coming on, it has retreated without making me sick after using echinacea. It is hard to isolate what worked though, because I also do other stuff to ward off the illness.

I will drink apple cider vinegar straight or you could mix it with some water if that is too much for you, or mix it with some olive oil and put it on a salad. Apple cider vinegar is essentially the magic elixir of life, and the actual contents of the fountain of youth. But seriously, it has some crazy benefits. It can boost energy, make your hair and skin more vibrant, sooth sunburn, and apparently, which I am going to have to try, remove stains from the teeth. It can even break up mucus in the lungs. But I think the reason it works for keeping people healthy is that apple cider vinegar balances the pH level of the body:

Apple cider vinegar helps the body maintain a healthy alkaline pH level. Research shows that higher acid levels (lower pH level) leads to a lack of energy and higher incidences of infection.

I’ve heard that things like too much sugar and alcohol can mess with our pH levels, and that apple cider vinegar brings us back to a healthy balance. Oh yea and they say to get the apple cider vinegar “with the mother” which supposedly gives you even stronger benefits, and just means it has not been filtered; its raw and unpasteurized.

Also, I kind of have this theory that if you eat a lot of garlic, ginger, and onions, you will live forever. So when I am feeling under the weather, I try to overdose on these delicious spices. According to the book The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke, onion and garlic are closely related plants that contain antiviral compounds. Garlic also contains “allicin, one of the plant kingdom’s most potent, broad spectrum antibiotics”. As for ginger, it also contains almost a dozen antiviral compounds, specifically ones that kill the rhinovirus family, which includes common cold viruses. Cold symptom relief can also be found from ginger, because of its mild sedative effect, and the gingerols and shogaols that reduce fever, pain, and coughing.

Then of course there is the classic green tea which certainly can’t hurt, and eating as many vegetables and fruit as possible, while being sure to drink enough liquids. But most importantly, appreciate how awesome it feels to be healthy.