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Top ten winter blues busters

While we all know that living in rural Wisconsin is a blessing to be cherished, the winters can sometimes feel a bit like a curse, or make some of us feel like cursing.

This winter in particular has seemed longer, colder and grayer than usual. And it's not over yet!

Cabin fever or the winter blues can be a direct result of prolonged periods of little or no sunshine and single-digit temperatures.

Here are a few suggestions to stay close to home without being stuck in the house during the rest of the winter.

1. Visit the Friday Library for self-entertainment. Check out a good book and lose yourself in another world - maybe choose a book set in the tropics or another more temperate climate.

Movies and music are also available at the library to lift your spirits, pass the time or transport you to another plane of existence for awhile.

2. If you can't find a class to interest you through Community Education, you might want to check your pulse. They offer card-making, clogging, dance, dog obedience, weight-loss, karate, knitting, meditation, quilting, scrap-booking, sign language, stained glass, woodcarving, yoga, basketball and straw bale gardening (coming soon), and that's just part of the list.

3. For family fun, a day on the 90-foot water slide and in the pool at the local YMCA will only cost $20 per family or $5 per child and $10 per adult. The Y also has a gym with basketball and other sports available, a fitness center with classes offered and a teen center where youth can come and "hang out."

4. Have a "night out." going to dinner, then bowling or a movie. It's always fun to get out of the house and "go somewhere." A variety of restaurants in town offer an array of menu choices from fast-food and ethnic cuisine to the fine dining downtown. Two New Richmond bowling alleys offer a chance for some fun and a bit of exercise. The movie theater in town has first-run feature movies and all that buttery popcorn.

5. If you aren't afraid to brave the chilly temps, New Richmond offers eight miles of cross-country ski trails (might want to wait for another dusting of snow as trail conditions aren't great right now), but ice-fishing is "hot" on the Willow River right off the pier at Mary Park.

The ice skating rink and sledding hill at West Elementary are popular destinations for the hearty and young at heart.

There are also snowmobile trails around town, and snowboarding and tubing aren't too far away at Badlands near Hudson, Trollhaugen in Dresser and Wild Mountain in Taylors Falls, Minn.

6. If you are down in the dumps, bored or just need an outlet, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in our community. Not only will it get you out of the house, but chances are you will feel better in general because you'll be helping others. Local churches, schools, community groups and charities are always looking for volunteers. Volunteers are needed to drive people to appointments, sit and talk with the elderly, help children with school tasks, feed the hungry and clothe the poor. Everyone who has the time, has a talent that could be beneficial to others.

7. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. We have a nice variety of shops in New Richmond and the surrounding area to satisfy anyone's tastes. Window shopping is fun if money's an issue. If it's not, buying is always good too. New Richmond has everything from jewelry stores, quaint boutiques, specialty shops like florists, gift and card shops, furniture stores, electronics businesses, candy shops and more.

8. Get a new outlook on life. Pamper yourself at one of the many hair salons and spas in and around town. A new "do" or a nice massage could be just the lift you need during the bleak mid-winter.

And while you're at it, a work-out can do wonders for your outlook. Local gyms, the YMCA and Community Ed all offer classes and passes to try out their equipment.

9. Become a patron of the local arts. The Space offers entertainment, classes and gallery showings, while the Old Gem Theater in town hosts plays and guest appearances on a regular basis. The local High School has a play coming up soon too.

10. Finally, if none of the ideas above appeal to you, it might be better if you just climbed into bed, pulled the covers up over your head and waited it out. Spring is on the way, eventually.