Sunday, January 26, 2014

Blasting the Winter Blahs

I don’t know about you, but for me, January is the longest, dreariest month of the year. Daylight hasn’t increased enough to improve my outlook on life, it’s cold, and it’s either brown or white. I have to self-talk my way through this 31-day marathon with adages like “spring is around the corner, and days are growing longer.”

If those pep talks don’t inspire me, I resort to a baking spree. That adds to my depression when I realize I have to lose added pounds because I self-medicated my doldrums with a pan of brownies or chocolate chip cookies.

A third low-calorie solution is to take mini-vacations to banish these post-holiday pity parties. You might think that’s expensive or impossible when you work. Nope, this part of Kansas has wonderful and free or inexpensive museums and galleries a short distance from your home. You can clean house, do laundry Saturday morning, and still find time to check out a local historical society or art collection.

A previous Dane G. Hansen Display
Anyone living near Hays can visit the Hays Historical Society, Sternberg Museum, Moss Thorns Gallery on campus, or the Hays Arts Council exhibits. Hays Medical Center and the library also display outstanding art for public viewing.

Stay on I-70 and drive to Russell to investigate the Oil Museum or head west to Wakeeney to learn more about homesteading on the High Plains and then to  Oakley to view the Fick Fossil Collection and the Buffalo Bill Statue. If you have extra time, tour Main Street for a peek at the past and maybe sample an old-fashioned sundae at a real soda fountain.

Those who live north can explore their community stories as well. A trip to Phillipsburg to check out Fort Bissell Museum with its Kingery Gun collection and Rock Island railroad memorabilia housed in the old Glade Depot won’t disappoint locals or visitors. A lively business district invites attention as well. 

The crown jewel in Phillips County is the no-fee Dane G. Hansen museum with its permanent gun and Asian collection and traveling art exhibitions. It’s easy to think we’re too rural to see famous art, but that’s not true in Logan. Several times a year, the small museum hosts exhibits on loan from major institutions, including the Smithsonian.

The current display from Ohio’s Springfield Museum of Art is Associated American Artists by Subscription. Sketches of every day American life by artists including Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry, Grant Wood, Mabel Dwight, Lawrence Beall Smith, and other early and mid-20th century artists will sweep the winter cobwebs from the corners of your brain. If you want to see this exhibit, hurry to Logan in the next couple of weeks. While you’re in town, tour the charming downtown and the historical society displays.

 If you’re feeling clever, turn one of these mini-escapes into a scavenger hunt or funny photo shoot with inventive backgrounds. It might take extra work, but the memories will be worth it.

Some of us are bound to suffer from winter blues, but we don’t have to give in. With a little effort, we can banish them with dinosaur days, pioneer times, oil boomtowns, or excellent art. Plan a blah-blasting holiday soon. 

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