Thriving through Winter: Tips from your Neighbors

December 29, 2022 | by Naomi Tomky

Explore +

The big dark descends by November, and it rains until June, yet Mercer Islanders love it here, thriving in the notoriously damp, chilly Pacific Northwest. To help new arrivals as they search for solace before spring or to remind any locals who forgot over the course of the driest summer on record, we surveyed islanders about how they get through the dreary months.

Embrace the Evenings

Instead of hiding from the blanket of clouds and blackness, bundle up, put the kettle on, and go for a postprandial stroll with a warm mug. “We like to take evening walks with tea,” wrote one person. “The ambiance of the lights is great!” An added bonus: this winter activity gives everyone an excuse to leave Christmas lights up until April, too. With the right shoes, any of these fall walks make great winter walks, too.

Reading in the Rain

Pretend to be a character in a ‘90s romcom, don your chunkiest knit sweater, and wander the aisles of Island Books. One reader said that browsing the bookstore and Mercer Island Library for rainy-day reads kept her spirits up throughout the season. Learn more about the library in our history and tour, and check out this post to understand why we love Island Books.

Ski Away the SAD

The blanket of white chases away the dark sky and the mountain air does you good when you hit the snow. While the My Mercer Island editorial team is split between cross-country and downhill skiers, we agree that sliding about on sticks prevents the cold-weather woes. Check out our guide to islanders’ favorite ski slopes and schools to plan your next mountain outing.

Beauty Over Bleakness

Look for color within your walls and spend the winter creating beauty instead of bemoaning the lack of it. “I make art,” a reader explained of how they make it through the long months. “I paint all day long; it’s so cozy.” If you need a little inspiration, pop into one of Mercer Island’s many art galleries, or watch our community centers for upcoming art class offerings.

Anticipation Adrenaline

Be your own light in the darkness by making plans that you can get excited about. “Always have something to look forward to,” one islander reminded us. It could be a dinner with friends, a concert, or (see below) an upcoming trip to someplace where the sun appears before April. But, the islander reminded us, “Even the little things count.” So maybe it’s just the latest episode of a favorite television show or a favorite fitness class.

Get Out of Town

By far, the preferred technique for getting through the winter on Mercer Island is getting out of winter on Mercer Island. This will always be our favorite island, but travel to sunny places came up often in the answers. “Mostly, it’s simply over the mountains to Suncadia to see a blue sky,” shared one of our readers, reminding us that the sun can often be found in just a 2-3 hour drive away from Seattle. “But I prefer the desert – Scottsdale,” she added. Further getaways often cited included Palm Springs and the Hawaiian islands. Those of us stuck at home will just pretend the tea we take on our evening walk is a mai tai and that the windblown whitecaps of Lake Washington are the warm waves of the South Pacific.