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Caught napping

01/21/04 12:00AM By Linda DuCharme
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(Host) Commentator Linda DuCharme says that cold winter days are a perfect time to work your technique in the fine art of the nap.


(DuCharme) The bears around here have the right idea. Instead of dealing with snow and slush and ice and temperatures that prompt us to take photos of the thermometer because no one will believe how cold it is, they take a nap. They curl up in some little shelter and live off the fat they've stored for the annual mother of all naps. If the lady bears are pregnant, they can give even give birth without disturbing their snooze. I really like the idea of storing up lots of fat and then sleeping.

When I was the mother of three toddlers, the oldest just under 2 , my husband and I were living for a time with his parents and 90-year-old grandmother. My life involved answering needs on a grand scale.

I was always exhausted.

A fellow who came to the house regularly to provide physical therapy for the grandmother, noted my haggard appearance and gently asked, "Do you ever get a nap in?" I replied, "You betcha!" and admitted that at 1 p.m. every day, I hauled the urchins upstairs to their cribs and then I would lie down on the couch and go into a coma. In a couple of hours I would awaken, bleary eyed and foggy and report back to duty. The therapist suggested a more productive sleep in the afternoon. "Look at your watch," he said, "and resolve to sleep for 20 minutes only. You can hypnotize yourself into it." The next day I tried it, it worked and I've been doing it ever since.

These days my children are napping parents themselves and I have the leisure to have developed my naps into something more than therapy for the demands of motherhood. My naps now have quality and beauty.

The ingredients for the prize-winning nap are the basic setting of a couch and an unplugged phone, the right afghan on the torso and the right cat at the feet. I assume the prone position and as soon as I'm vaguely aware that my brain has left the building, I know I'm on the right track. At this point I can terminate the nap and feel refreshed and alert, or I can embrace my nap for a longer ride. One must achieve drooling as the next step into napping bliss.

Another element can be added for enhanced quality of the snooze. A drizzling rain, with no strong winds, can turn the ordinary nap into a sublime experience. Rain at the ocean provides a downright gourmet nap, one that should be recorded in a special notebook.

Naps with dogs are always satisfying. Winter naps are better than summer naps because there no mosquitoes. A nap on a couch with throw pillows is better than a nap on a bed.

When I visit my children these days, they will greet me with, "You'll need a nap after that long drive." And then we all nap.

Linda DuCharme is a retired assistant managing editor of the Brattleboro Reformer. She spoke to us today from our studio in Norwich.
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