This past weekend here in the northeastern United States, we had our first snowstorm. After a week of unseasonably warm temperatures that peaked at nearly 70 degrees Fahrenheit, bitter cold and sharp wind pushed its way in, and it stayed.

In a blog post last year, I shared that January is my least favorite month of the year. And this inconvenience, a snowstorm that cancels events and makes it difficult albeit dangerous to get from point A to point B, is one of the reasons.

After a few days of chilly temperatures had frozen the ground, the snow arrived, and it stuck quickly. It covered cars, sidewalks, driveways and parking lots, even mailboxes. In spite of the brine that had been carefully and meticulously applied to the roads in my town the day before, the storm left a sheen of thin, white slush on the roads, just enough to make it difficult for cars to ascend hills and turn corners without stalling.

Not wanting to risk navigating the hill to the main street in my car, I decided to walk to the pharmacy. I stepped into my snow boots, buttoned my parka up to my chin, pulled on my gloves, and descended the stairs of my building into the storm.

It was a Saturday morning, usually a very busy morning in my town. People are driving to yoga classes, running and walking on the riverside trail, meeting friends for coffee, shuttling their children to dance and karate classes, taking their dogs for walks around the block.

I noticed something different this Saturday morning. I didn’t hear the stop and go of a car on Maple Street at the busy intersection along 6th Avenue. I didn’t hear the honking of horns on Fayette Street. I didn’t hear my neighbor’s dog barking at the cars as people drove by his yard. I didn’t hear people talking, getting into their cars to run errands or saying hello to neighbors as they grabbed the newspaper from their front lawn.

In fact, I didn’t hear anything.

The town was eerily quiet, blanketed in white. It was as if it was sleeping. A few flurries seemed to hang there, suspended in the silent air. A lone car, a large and cherry red plow truck stamped with the borough’s symbol, drove slowly down Maple Street. A man in a navy blue parka with a fur-lined hood was scraping a shovel along the sidewalk in front of his house.

The stillness of the day reminded me of early morning, of the that brief period of time when it’s light out, but the world hasn’t woken up yet. The sun was covered by clouds, casting a hazy, faint glow, almost as if it were a sunrise.

It was unexpectedly peaceful, walking out into the aftermath of a snowstorm.

I added this morning, this peaceful freezing of time, to my list of things that I like about my least favorite month.

Since that morning, I’ve also discovered a few additional things that I like about January:

  1. Drinking hot chocolate

It goes against my attempt to reduce my sugar intake (you can read about that in this post), but there’s something so comforting about drinking a steaming mug of chocolate on a cold day. If you’re looking for a great dairy-free or vegan version, I can recommend this brand.

  1. Winter cleaning

When it’s not weather-permitting to venture outside, I’ve started cleaning and organizing the piles and furniture throughout my house that are easy to neglect when I’m not at home. There are books I studied in college and graduate school, crammed into my bookcase, covered by old magazines and newspaper clippings that didn’t have another place. It’s not the most exciting of activities, but cleaning and organizing furniture like a neglected office bookcase can make a dreary Saturday in January feel more productive.

  1. Reading

A friend inspired me to set a goal of number of books to read this year, using the Goodreads Challenge, and a cold January day is the perfect opportunity to make a dent.

What are some of your favorite things to do in January?