It’s dark. It’s bleak. It’s gray. It’s cold.

But in some ways, if it weren’t for the high cost of heating my house, I suppose winter would be my favorite season.

As we fight seasonal affective disorder, I thought it might be a good idea to list some of the good things about winter.

1. Playing in the snow

A few snowfalls ago, I found myself on a Saturday or Sunday morning with nothing better to do than take the kids outside and play in the snow for a while.

There’s a small hill off the side of my house that we can slide down. Wesley and Samantha get a better ride out of it than I do. It’s good to send me in my weight class down the hill first. I sink in deep and create a natural bobsled track. Then the kids can just glide down.

We have two sleds. An inner tube and a cheap purple slab of plastic. That’s so everyone can fight over who gets the inner tube. When I was a kid I used to have those wooden sleds and a toboggan.

I notice that when I get to the bottom of the hill, it’s a lot harder than it used to be to get back up again.

When it comes to snowball fights, I’ve found the kids like throwing the snowballs at Dad but don’t like getting hit with return fire. Wesley caught me in the chest with a snowball when I was at the top of the hill and I went into some pretty dramatic death throes, clutching the wound and rolling down the hill. In the middle of this, I noticed some neighbors walking by.

2. Reading, watching TV

Every weekend in the summer, my wife has to drag the family out of the house. We have to seize the day.

In the winter, there is no sunny warm weather to seize. There is cold and wet and despair beyond the door.

So I am free to sit and watch monster movies and read a book or two if I can concentrate over the sound of the kids.

Every once in a while the Cat in the Hat stops by to break up the monotony.

3. Chili

Winter’s a good excuse to make a pot of chili or stew.

4. Using four-wheel drive

It’s there for a reason. On Monday, there was a hump of snow blocking my path into the parking lot at work. For some reason, motoring right through it gave me an overwhelming sense of satisfaction.

5. Ice fishing

I have never been ice fishing. I saw Jerry Seinfeld on TV the other night plugging his new show where judges decide who’s right in arguments between husbands and wives. He said something like, “How bad does your marriage have to be that you’d rather be doing this?”

That’s kind of my take on it, but I have friends who enjoy it.

6. Ice skating

This is not one of my favorite activities. First of all it’s an activity. Second, I had a bad experience skating once.

When I was a young man getting my schooling at the University of Maine at Orono, some female friends of mine dragged me down to the Alfond Arena for ice skating. I had done some roller skating in my high school years (thought it would be a good way to meet girls) and thought the same principles applied to both forms of skating.

Let’s review that thinking a little bit. First, I used to go roller skating before they came up with Rollerblades. So each foot was planted on its own little car with four rubber or plastic wheels.

This is different from cutting along on a blade of metal where your skate can actually end up in grooves made in the ice by other people.

Figuring I knew what I was doing, I got going really fast and wiped out. My feet flew up in front of me and I did one of those Matrix movie freeze-motion maneuvers where I was just hovering several feet above the ice. Then I slammed down on my back and my head. The ice felt exceptionally hard. Like concrete only cold.

I have been skating since, but I’m pretty useless out there. I don’t even remember my roller skating techniques anymore.

7. The U.S. National Toboggan Championships

I took pictures at this event last year. It was a really cool and festive winter event. Kind of like a mini-Olympics. People were dressed in costumes. I saw nuns, Revolutionary War re-enactors and one disturbing individual dressed in a pink pig costume.

The list could go on. It could include building massive snow forts, playing king of the mountain on the top of snowbanks, making snow angels, catching snowflakes with your tongue (my son gets a big kick out of that), drinking hot chocolate with fluff, and simply hibernating. I have friends who ski and snowshoe. Sounds exhausting.

We’ve got about 10 weeks to go before the weather gets good, so we all have to come to grips with it.

It’s our ability to do so that makes us Mainers.