Tag: Winter (Season)

Planting, ‘Plogging’ and Sunsets: How to Enjoy That Extra Hour of Daylight

Planting, ‘Plogging’ and Sunsets: How to Enjoy That Extra Hour of Daylight

“Spring ahead” will come as an even bigger relief than usual after a year of lockdown.

Credit…Sally Deng

  • March 11, 2021, 1:20 p.m. ET

With the first anniversary of lockdown fast approaching, I thought I’d been through every possible pandemic milestone. As the months rolled by, I’d checked them off like squares on a Bingo card: First pandemic birthday, first pandemic holiday, first pandemic panic attack in an empty toilet paper aisle at Target.

But while the country was collectively mired in the coronavirus crisis when we turned the clocks back last November, there’s one pandemic milestone we haven’t fully experienced together yet: Turning them forward.

Last year, daylight saving time began on March 8, three days before the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. This year, as case counts fall and vaccinations rise, there’s not just a metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel, but a literal one too. And it starts on Sunday, March 14, when “springing forward” nets us an extra hour of daylight at the end of the day.

Get ready for a little light relief

“Putting the clocks forward feels like a turning point every year, but I think this year, a lot of people are particularly excited about the longer evenings and the extra sunlight,” said Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. In the 1980s, Dr. Rosenthal first described and named Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD — a type of depression that most commonly occurs in the fall and winter months — and pioneered light therapy for its treatment.

While the disorder affects an estimated 6 percent of people in the United States, with another 14 percent experiencing a milder variant known as the winter blues, “it’s been a hard winter for many people, even if they don’t have SAD,” said Dr. Rosenthal. “People have felt cooped up, like they’ve had to crawl back into their burrows.”

Now, though, we can crawl back out — and reap the benefits. Exposure to light can increase energy levels and set internal circadian clocks to regulate sleep and waking, said Dr. Rosenthal. It can also be a powerful mood booster.

“Light can cause a shift in your emotional state because it’s a stimulant,” he said. “It stimulates receptors in the eye, which send signals back to regions of the brain that regulate emotional responses, possibly by increasing serotonin transmission. We know serotonin to be a powerful chemical in regulating mood.”

The extra hour at the end of the day is especially welcome, given the light deprivation that many suffer during the winter, said Dr. Rosenthal.

“If you’re thirsty in the desert and someone gives you water, your tongue is so sensitive to the sensation of drinking it that it feels amazing,” he said. “For a person who’s been deprived of light for months, there’s a similar effect: All of a sudden the light starts increasing really quickly and you get this bonus hour of it at the end of the day.”

‘Longer evenings, warmer weather’

That bonus hour doesn’t just mean more light — it means longer evenings, warmer weather and the ability to do more outdoors. That may feel particularly resonant this year, said Dr. Rosenthal, because the past winter deprived us not just of sunlight, but of our general sense of normalcy.

“It’s not only light that’s been lacking, but all joys of contact with others,” he said. “An extra hour is thrilling in itself, but now we can use it to safely do things we haven’t been able to do for the last few months of the pandemic, like socialize outdoors with friends.”

Exhilaration about the prospect of longer, lighter days may also stem from the fact that we’re turning the page from winter to spring during a time when news about the virus feels cautiously optimistic, said Dr. Rosenthal.

“It’s a wonderful mix of chemistry, circumstance and hope,” he said. “Hope was hard to find a few months ago, but now it feels abundant.”

Of course, while the extra light can be invigorating, the pandemic is not over yet and this isn’t the time to let down your guard. Adjusting to the shift in your sleep schedule may make you a little more distractible, said Amy R. Wolfson, a professor of psychology at Loyola University Maryland and an expert in adolescent sleep. “Don’t take any risks or make changes to the safety procedures you’re following,” she said. “Keep wearing a mask and social distancing.”

Luckily, there are a host of pandemic-friendly ways to enjoy the bonus hour of light coming your way — and none of them involve Zoom.

Try a new exercise outdoors

Exercise, often used as a tool in treating SAD, can give you a double dose of elation if you do it outside, said Dr. Rosenthal.

Lean into spring’s spirit of new beginnings and try something different, said Kerri Anne Stebbins, co-founder of Endless Trails, a nonprofit that works to preserve wild spaces. “It’s always fun to rediscover childhood activities in adulthood,” she said. “My 37-year-old sister just got back into rollerblading.”

If you always had a flair for the balance beam, try slacklining, a grown-up equivalent where you walk, run or even do yoga across a suspended length of nylon webbing.

Get out on the water (if there’s some nearby)

Longer days lend themselves well to paddle sports, which typically come with time-consuming setups and breakdowns, said Rue Mapp, founder and chief executive of Outdoor Afro, a nonprofit that seeks to celebrate and inspire Black American connections to the outdoors.

“Find a city park or reservoir that rents canoes or kayaks,” she said. But remember to pace yourself if you haven’t been exercising regularly. “In a prepandemic year, you’d have jumped right back in to outdoor activity,” she said. “This year, gyms have been closed and many people have been less active. You might need more time to reacclimate.”

Practice ‘plogging’

For an evening run with a side of philanthropy, gather a few friends for a socially distanced foray into “plogging,” a Swedish fitness craze whose wacky moniker — a portmanteau of “jogging” and “plocka upp,” Swedish for “to pick up” — belies its wholesome mission: literally just picking up garbage while jogging.

“We join a local litter patrol every year once the snow starts melting,” said Ms. Stebbins. “I’m always surprised how much trash piles up in the winter.”

Revive the humble evening walk

There’s a reason it was such a classic during the early days of the pandemic. Walking, particularly walking while paying attention to the wonders around you, can have myriad benefits for your physical and mental health.

“Sure, you can go forest bathing or do barefoot grounding exercises or jump rope down the street — all fun and effective, by the way — but there’s so much power in a simple after-dinner walk,” said Sadie Chanlett-Avery, a yoga instructor and holistic fitness trainer based in Asheville, N.C., who runs yoga and mindfulness retreats. “It’s a great way to remind yourself of your place in the changing seasons. Notice the daffodils blooming. Tap into that growth and new life and hope.”

Bring extra awareness to your body by adding a simple yoga move as you walk, particularly if you’re with a kid who needs to get a few more wiggles out. “Raise your arms above your head a few times, snow-angel-style, to lift your chest and open up the sides of your ribs,” she said. “We all need to flap our wings a bit.”

Cook dinner over an open flame

The days may be getting longer, but summer weather is still a ways off. If you have outdoor space, “merging your camping gear with your patio can shift how you think about enjoying the outdoors, even this early in the season,” said Liz Fischer, the owner of Pasadena Outdoor Education, a company in Pasadena, Calif., that provides wilderness medicine education and CPR training. “Break out your Coleman stove and cook dinner with your camping supplies. When the weather warms, you’ll have gained new skills to make a real camping trip run more smoothly.”

Stream a movie outside

Borrow or rent a small portable projector and host a driveway movie night at dusk, said Ms. Fischer. The longer evening will give you more time to set up snacks or play a trailer or two before night falls.

Get your hands in the dirt

Plant something (“anything!” said Ms. Stebbins) and then “take it to a local assisted living facility to brighten up the rooms of people who aren’t able to get outside.”

Watch the sun set

For now, celebrate your extra hour with a pleasure both simple and sublime. “Work and school and dinner prep can make it a tricky proposition during the winter months,” said Ms. Stebbins. “But as soon as the days start getting longer, make the time to go outside and watch the sun sink below the horizon.”

Holly Burns is a writer in the San Francisco Bay Area.

How to Walk Safely in the Snow, Ice and Slush

Personal Health

How to Walk Safely in the Snow, Ice and Slush

Walk like a penguin: Turn your feet slightly outward and take short, flat-footed steps.

Credit…Gracia Lam
Jane E. Brody

  • Feb. 22, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

This has been a most challenging winter, especially for folks like me in their upper decades who’ve had to contend not only with pandemic-induced loneliness and limitations but also with streets piled high with snow and sidewalks coated with ice.

I take my little dog to the park for his off-leash run every morning, and often have had to rely on the kindness of strangers to help me navigate paths glazed with ice so I could get back home in one piece.

I not-so-silently curse the neighbors who high-tailed it to their country retreats for the Covid-restricted winter without arranging to have their sidewalks shoveled whenever it snowed, which it has done with a particular vengeance in New York City this February.

Many in my neighborhood who did shovel created only a narrow path for walkers and failed to clear the snow from the inner part of the sidewalk, where some of it periodically melted during the day and refroze at night, leaving a slick of black ice for pedestrians to slip and fall on in the morning. An elderly friend who lives alone landed on one of those icy patches and broke her wrist, a challenging injury, but at least her hips and head remained intact.

It’s not that I don’t know how to walk on icy surfaces. I review the guidelines every winter and thought I was well equipped, but I may have been lulled into complacency by last year’s relatively mild winter and failed to pay adequate attention to what to put on my feet. The other morning I changed my boots three times without finding a pair able to keep me reliably upright over snowy, slushy and icy terrain, despite them all having supposedly good rubber treads.

Perhaps I should have consulted the Farmer’s Almanac for 2021. Had I anticipated how bad it could get I might have checked the laboratory-tested advice on the best anti-slip footwear from a research team at the Kite Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-UHN. It would have alerted me to the fact that none of the boots in my closet are really much good, especially for someone my age facing the conditions I’ve encountered on Brooklyn streets and Prospect Park this winter.

Aiming to keep Canadian bones intact during long icy winters, in 2016 the team, headed by Geoff Fernie, a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Toronto, tested 98 different types of winter boots, both work and casual, and found that only 8 percent of them met the lab’s minimum standard of slip resistance.

Using what it calls the Maximum Achievable Angle testing method, the team evaluated slip resistance of footwear in a winter-simulated indoor laboratory with an icy floor that can be tilted at increasing angles. While attached to a harness to prevent a real fall when they slip, participants wearing the shoes being tested walk on the ramp uphill and downhill over bare ice or melting ice. Shoes that prevent slippage with the ramp set at an angle of at least seven degrees get a single snowflake rating. Two snowflakes are awarded for non-slippage at 11 degrees, and three snowflakes for 15 degrees. But 90 types of footwear initially tested by 2016 failed to get any snowflakes, and none got more than one snowflake.

Things have improved in the past few years, with 65 percent of boots tested in 2019 getting at least one snowflake, Dr. Fernie said in an interview. The latest ratings, which are updated continually, can be found online at ratemytreads.com.

He explained that two types of outer soles, Arctic Grip and Green Diamond, provide the best traction on ice. Green Diamond acts like rough sandpaper, with hard grit incorporated into the rubber sole, that works best on cold hard ice. Arctic Grip soles contain microscopic glass fibers that point downward to give firm footing on wet ice. You might be able to find a few brands that use both technologies in the same sole to achieve protection on both hard and wet ice.

Alas, I tried too late in the current snow-and-ice season to locate a pair in my size of any of the top-rated boots Dr. Fernie’s lab tested. So for now I’ll have to rely on the Yaktrax pull-on cleats I bought years ago and struggle to get them onto my existing shoes.

Properly shod or not, it pays to know how to walk safely on snowy and icy surfaces.

My No. 1 rule: Never go out without your cellphone, adequately charged, especially if you’ll be alone. Take it slow, and use handrails on steps when available. On slippery steps, if there’s nothing to hold on to, go down sideways.

Walk like a duck or penguin. The posture is anything but glamorous but could help to keep you out of the emergency room. Extend your arms to the side to improve balance. Keep your hands out of your pockets; you may need them to break a possible fall. And wear gloves!

Bend forward a little from your knees and hips to lower your center of gravity and keep it aligned over your forward leg as you walk. With your legs spread a little further apart than usual, turn your feet slightly outward and take short, flat-footed steps. Or if that’s not possible, shuffle side to side at an angle to move forward without raising your feet.

Pay attention to your surroundings and look ahead of you as you walk to avoid trip hazards. If you use a cane, fit the end with an ice pick made for the purpose; an ordinary rubber-tipped cane is not much better on ice than slippery shoes.

Avoid carrying heavy packages that can throw you off balance. I use a backpack to carry small items, or if I’m shopping for anything bigger, I take a grocery cart.

And know how to fall to minimize the risk of a serious injury. Should you start to fall backward, quickly tuck your chin to your chest to avoid hitting your head and extend your arms away from your body so that your forearms and palms, not your wrists and elbows, hit the ground.

If you fall forward, try to roll to one side as you land so that a forearm, not your hand, is first to hit bottom.

Getting up from an icy surface can also be challenging. If you’re not injured, turn over onto your hands and knees. Keeping your feet shoulder-width apart, place one foot between your hands, then bring the other foot between them and try to push yourself up.

How to Recognize and Address Seasonal Depression

How to Recognize and Address Seasonal Depression

Despair in the winter months can point to a serious condition. Experts recommend light boxes, earlier wake-up times and therapy.

Credit…Pablo Amargo

  • Feb. 5, 2021, 2:38 p.m. ET

Seeing friends was normally the highlight of Kendra Sands’ week. One night in January 2018, she had plans to meet two for dinner, but instead, Ms. Sands, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., crawled into bed. She wanted to go out, but she was stuck in a dark room, sobbing.

“I forced myself to put on different clothes, touch up my makeup and get in the car,” she said. “But driving to the restaurant, I realized hibernating in bed had been a pattern for weeks.”

Sands initially blamed PMS for the crying episodes, but after a month she still had no relief. After asking about her mental health pattern in previous years, Ms. Sands’ therapist eventually diagnosed her with seasonal affective disorder. “I knew I didn’t like the cold or dreariness of winter, but I never thought I had a form of depression,” Ms. Sands said.

According to Vaile Wright, senior director of health care innovation and practice directorate at the American Psychological Association, seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.) is a type of major depression. What makes S.A.D. unique is its timing: “It has a distinct seasonal onset, typically in winter, and a spontaneous remission of symptoms,” she said.

S.A.D. patients experience classic depression symptoms: sadness, irritability, trouble concentrating, lack of interest in activities and increased sleep and appetite. It doesn’t have to be cold or snowy, people can experience S.A.D. in sunny climates like Florida or Southern California.

“The important consideration for all forms of S.A.D. is the effect of your surroundings,” said Dr. Amit Etkin, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University. “The light you experience, how you interact with the world when you get up, and when you go to bed all have a disproportionate effect on your mood.”

Recognize S.A.D. in yourself.

Michael Terman, professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University and founder of the Center for Environmental Therapeutics, said it’s common to gain weight and feel lethargic in winter, but only around three percent of the population has S.A.D.

To be diagnosed, you need to experience at least five of nine clinical symptoms for at least two weeks, said Paul Desan, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. If you don’t, you could have subsyndromal S.A.D., a milder version Dr. Desan said people often call “winter blues.”

A distinct, seasonal pattern is key to recognizing S.A.D., feeling normal during spring and summer, then dwindling in energy and mood as days get shorter — almost like you want to hibernate. If you have a family member with S.A.D., you might be more likely to develop it, and Dr. Desan said the disorder is three times more common in women.

According to Dr. Terman, S.A.D. prevalence increases as you move north, until you hit 38 degrees (around Washington D.C.). Anywhere farther north is essentially equally affected at maximum severity. The likelihood also rises near the western edges of time zones, where dawn occurs later.

Experts agree it’s important to treat S.A.D. if you think you may have it. Here are some of the most common treatment methods they recommend.

Start with simple changes.

Many forms of depression, Dr. Wright said, benefit from changes to sleep schedule, a nutritious diet, exercise and social interaction. If you have S.A.D., put a winter spin on these behaviors.

For example, even if you want to sleep later, set an alarm each day so you can experience early-morning sunshine, which helps with S.A.D. symptoms. “Engaging actively in the world, as if you already had those rhythms, is a good way to help reset your circadian rhythm,” Dr. Etkin said.

What you do at night matters, too. Dr. Etkin suggests basic sleep hygiene like avoiding screens (and any artificial light). Try to keep your bedtime consistent — not too late — and avoid too much caffeine or alcohol, which can interfere with your quality of rest and ability to get up.

Try a light box.

Light activates a bodily signal that informs your cells what time of day it is. Morning light causes cortisol to spike, giving you energy. The time of that initial spike determines when your brain releases melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy before bedtime.

During winter, people often get less light in the morning and too much artificial light at night, which throws off these signals, affecting sleep and mood.

Light boxes — devices that produce artificial light similar to sunlight — may be an effective way to correct that. In a meta-analysis of 19 studies, bright light therapy was superior to placebo; another small study found 61 percent of light-therapy patients saw their depression symptoms ebb in four weeks.

There is some evidence that sitting in front of a 10,000-lux (the measure of light intensity) light box for 30-45 minutes every day around sunrise during fall and winter decreases S.A.D. symptoms. If you’re currently experiencing S.A.D. symptoms, it’s not too late to start. You can also begin treating next season’s symptoms in the fall.

As tempting as it is to hit the snooze button on weekends, Dr. Desan said your mood will start to sag again if you don’t do your treatment every day around sunrise, so build light therapy into your life. Most research-grade light boxes allow you to sit at arm’s length and move your head, so you should be able to eat breakfast, drink coffee or read.

An effective light box is usually at least $100, but not every option is equally effective. Of the 24 devices Dr. Desan tested in 2019, only seven met clinical criteria. The rest weren’t as effective as research-grade boxes.

Get outside.

According to Anna Wirz-Justice, professor emeritus in the Centre for Chronobiology at the University of Basel, in Switzerland, natural light isn’t only cheaper than a light box, it’s also brighter. Sunrise light is equivalent to 1,000 lux. A rainy morning provides around 10,000 lux, and snow on the ground is even brighter, at 50,000 lux.

Aim to go outside within 30 minutes after sunrise. “You don’t need to see the sun cross the horizon,” said Dr. Huberman. “What you’re looking for is the quality of light that happens when the sun is low in the sky.”

Duration depends on where you live and the weather. Dr. Huberman suggested around five minutes outside if it’s bright or 10-15 minutes if it’s cloudy. It’s OK to wear glasses or contacts, but skip sunglasses and never look at the sun directly.

See a psychotherapist.

Since 2000, Kelly Rohan, a psychology professor at the University of Vermont, has been conducting clinical trials comparing cognitive behavioral therapy (or C.B.T.) to light therapy. Her work suggests both treatments are effective for people with S.A.D. — especially after a new diagnosis. But when she followed people with S.A.D. for two winters, C.B.T. worked better than bright light therapy to prevent recurrences.

Dr. Rohan said C.B.T. may reduce symptoms more effectively because it provides long-term coping skills for changing negative thought and behavior patterns — whereas light therapy only works when you do it.

For Ms. Sands, the combination of lifestyle changes and psychotherapy made a significant difference in reducing her symptoms. But nothing helped more than naming the debilitating dip in her mood every winter. “Because I have a diagnosis, I can be proactive,” Ms. Sands said. “I don’t have to wait until spring to feel better.”

Ashley Abramson is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee, Wis.

How to Pretend You’re in Quebec City Tonight

A toboggan slide runs along the promenade known as Dufferin Terrace toward the castlelike Fairmont le Château Frontenac in Québec City.
A toboggan slide runs along the promenade known as Dufferin Terrace toward the castlelike Fairmont le Château Frontenac in Québec City.Credit…Renaud Philippe for The New York Times

How to Pretend You’re in Quebec City Tonight

As the song goes, there’s no place like home for the holidays. Wherever you are, you can embrace the coziness of the season like Québécois do.

A toboggan slide runs along the promenade known as Dufferin Terrace toward the castlelike Fairmont le Château Frontenac in Québec City.Credit…Renaud Philippe for The New York Times

  • Dec. 22, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET

While your travel plans may be on hold, you can pretend you’re somewhere new for the night. Around the World at Home invites you to channel the spirit of a new place each week with recommendations on how to explore the culture, all from the comfort of your home.

When the snow falls and the wind howls, the people of Quebec City don’t hibernate. Rather, they bundle up and celebrate with one of the most picturesque winter carnivals in the world. Overlooking the St. Lawrence River, with cobblestone streets and quaint stone houses, Old Quebec looks like an enchanted snow globe village — especially at Christmastime. In fact, the historic district of this former French colony is a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks in part to it being the only city in North America to have preserved its ramparts.

From left; In Quebec City, winter pleasures include strolling the 400-year-old city's streets, views of the St.-Jean-Baptiste area and snow bathers with Bonhomme. the official representative of the Quebec Winter Carnival, earlier this year.
From left; In Quebec City, winter pleasures include strolling the 400-year-old city’s streets, views of the St.-Jean-Baptiste area and snow bathers with Bonhomme. the official representative of the Quebec Winter Carnival, earlier this year.Credit…From left, Christinne Muschi for The New York Times; Renaud Philippe for The New York Times; Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

If I were there I’d be taking in sweeping river views from the promenade known as Dufferin Terrace and the Fairmont le Château Frontenac, the castlelike hotel where Alfred Hitchcock filmed scenes for “I Confess.” In the evening, I’d stroll amid evergreens and twinkling string lights on the Rue Petit-Champlain and stop into Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, one of the oldest stone churches in North America. Hours would be spent ice skating, warming up at an outdoor fire pit and refueling with hearty fare like poutine and tourtière (meat pie) from beloved restaurants.

But as the song goes, there’s no place like home for the holidays. Wherever you happen to be, you can embrace the coziness of the season like Québécois do — with maple syrup-inspired recipes, craft beer, outdoor pursuits and good cheer — even if a single snowflake never falls.

Le Projet Spécialité Microbrasseries, a bar in Quebec City, is known for its craft ciders and beers.Credit…Renaud Philippe for The New York Times

Cook up comfort with meat and maple syrup

“Blast some cheesy Celine Dion song on your iPhone at earsplitting decibels, find a good recipe for poutine — that trouser-busting dish of French fries, Cheddar cheese curds and gravy — and, if you are in chillier climes, go outside and build a snowman,” advises Dan Bilefsky, the Canada correspondent for The Times. Born in Quebec, Mr. Bilefsky has written about the “cultural skirmish over who deserves credit” for poutine: Québécois — or the rest of Canada. Happily, all you have to decide is which poutine recipe to make. Try one from Saveur, CBC/Radio-Canada, or Chuck Hughes, the co-owner and executive chef of Montreal’s Garde Manger and Le Bremner.

From left, a classic poutine, tartine au sucre and tourtière.Credit…From left, Alexi Hobbs for The New York Times; Craig Lee for The New York Times; Gentl and Hyers for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Jerrie-Joy.

“Québécois culture is defined by a certain cowboy excess when it comes to food,” as Mr. Bilefsky put it in an email. Cook up comfort with a New York Times Cooking recipe for a savory tourtière, or one for maple-roasted rack of venison from the celebrated Canadian chef Martin Picard of Au Pied de Cochon (often credited with reimagining poutine with foie gras). Be inspired by First Nations cuisine with chef Martin Gagné’s venison carpaccio with cedar jelly and sea buckthorn jam. And turn to chefs David McMillan and Frédéric Morin, owners of the acclaimed Joe Beef in Montreal, for more recipes in “The Art of Living According to Joe Beef” cookbook.

For dessert, fill your kitchen with the scent of maple syrup pie. Though why stop there? Bake maple syrup-soaked doughnut holes or maple tarte tartin with sweet recipes from Mr. Picard, who also created Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack where the essential ingredient is — what else?— maple syrup.

Host your own winter carnival

Take part in some typical Quebec Winter Carnival activities from your hometown (though perhaps skip the local tradition of ax-throwing). Make snow sculptures and go sledding or snowshoeing. Not living in a winter wonderland? You can string up white fairy lights, sing “Au Royaume du Bonhomme Hiver” with Renée Martel (to the tune of “Winter Wonderland”), and savor the Carnival grog, a hot, usually alcoholic drink. A recipe to make some at home with maple syrup, cranberry juice, cinnamon, cloves and sweet grass is on the Quebec Winter Carnival website.

A view of the Château Frontenac.Credit…Alice Chiche/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Parlez français

On days it’s too cold to linger outdoors, learn or brush up on your French, the official language of government in Quebec (and a delicate subject in a majority French-speaking province surrounded by English speakers). Stick to your budget with “Want to Learn French? Italian? Russian? There’s No Time Like the Present” for language tools that are free or won’t break the bank.

Get cozy with a stack of detective novels

What better way to spend long winter nights than with intrigue and mystery set in a small Quebec hamlet? Light a fire, real or virtual, crack open one of Louise Penny’s best-selling detective novels and spend the evening with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec police force. In the most recent book, “All the Devils Are Here,” published this fall, the inspector heads to Paris. But the 15 books in the Gamache series that precede it are steeped in the culture and cuisine of Quebec (with the occasional murder), beginning with “Still Life.”

From left, still images from the films “Matthias and Maxime,” “And the Birds Rained Down” and “Antigone.”Credit…From left, Mubi; Films Outsiders; ACPAV

Spend movie night with directors from Quebec

Keep au courant with Canada’s Top Ten, the Toronto International Film Festival’s annual list of the country’s best films (10 features and 10 shorts). The 2019 selections include several from Quebec directors such as Louise Archambault, whose “And the Birds Rained Down” (“Il Pleuvait des Oiseaux”) is about older hermits living in the wild and a love that blossoms there; and Sophie Deraspe’s “Antigone,” a riff on Sophocles’ tragedy centered on an immigrant family in Montreal (it won best Canadian feature at the Toronto International Film Festival). Also on the list is “Matthias and Maxime” from the writer and director Xavier Dolan, the Cannes Film Festival regular who shared the Jury Prize in 2014 for his film “Mommy” with the French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. (The 2020 list was recently posted online.)

Sing along with Celine Dion

For a road trip across Quebec in 2018, Mr. Bilefsky, the Times correspondent, made a playlist of songs that he felt embodied Québécois identity and would also provide an atmospheric soundtrack to the province’s landscapes. There was music from Samian, an Indigenous rapper who sings in French and Algonquin; Leonard Cohen; Éric Lapointe; Les Cowboys Fringants; the Dead Obies; and Arcade Fire. Obviously, Celine Dion, born in Charlemagne, Quebec, was on the list with “Destin.” After all, you haven’t really sung Celine until you’ve done so in French.

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, center, and Fresque des Québécois, right.Credit…Catherine Côté for The New York Times

Wander galleries from your living room

Step inside Quebec City’s art galleries like Galerie Perreault, where you can browse works by contemporary artists as well as Canadian masters. Or take a virtual tour of the gallery. Discover Canadian Inuit sculptures through the Galerie Art Inuit Brousseau’s Instagram account. And stroll around town with photos of public artworks from Quebec City Tourism. You won’t even need to pull on your snow boots.

How are you going to channel the spirit of Quebec City in your home? Share your ideas in the comments.

To keep up with upcoming articles in this series, sign up for our At Home newsletter or follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. See more Around the World at Home guides here.

Stephanie Rosenbloom, the author of “Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude” (Viking), has been writing travel, business and styles features for The Times for nearly two decades. Twitter: @Stephronyt. Instagram: @StephanieRosenbloom