In a bid to take a break from the anguish of the world according to Trump, I’m switching my focus to reflecting on the simple joys of winter. We’re lucky this year; there’s lots of it to make us feel joyful! 😉 It can be challenging, for sure, but it’s SOooo beautiful and SOooo invigorating. How can you be outside clearing yet another dump of the white stuff off your car and not feel just … so alive?! Surrounded by masses of fluffy white snow, with the amazing quiet that snow brings … so peaceful. And the bonus of getting productive exercise by shoveling, snow-blowing, brushing and scraping. Way more satisfying than the summer analog of lawn-mowing, where you end up all sweaty and covered in mosquito bites. How often do you stop mowing just to look around and take in the beauty of nature? And how often do you use your time mowing to let your mind wander and explore serendipitous thoughts? Need I say more?
Seriously. I happen to be one of those people who loves winter. I don’t know why there aren’t more of us, but it does seem that I am in the minority. I love winter so much that I actually moved to a place where they had “real” winters, winters that are winters all winter long. I always loved it when winter arrived when I was a kid, but it never stayed. Slide down the hill for a few days – beyond magical – and then it all melted. Skate on the pond for a few days – more magic – and then the pond turned back into a pond. I loved the sound of snow crunching under your feet, but it has to be pretty cold for that to happen, and we were more likely to have the sound of our cold wet boots squishing through slush. Even worse is looking out on snowless, grey, hibernating winter grass, ugly and boring. Granted, warmer snow that’s bound to melt after a few days is great for building snowmen, but Frosty won’t last unless it turns colder. And who wants to make snow angels in warm, wet, slushy snow? So I came further north and overcame those inadequacies.
Now the sound snow makes under my feet is more often than not nice and crunchy, and it crunches for extended periods of time. Perfect. The air is crisp and clean, and breathing it in makes you feel good. When our city floods outdoor skating rinks they more often than not stay frozen and well used for weeks at a time. People can usually count on being able to cross-country ski, downhill ski, or snowshoe for months. With our trails being plowed, winter running is also a joyous experience. Very little sweating, no bugs, no overheating; what’s not to like?
OK, I know, there are a few downsides. In my mind there are three main downsides to living where winter is serious business:
- I know this sounds strange, but it warms up too often. When it closes in around the freezing mark, bad things happen, like ice pellets, heavy wet snow, and, worst of all, freezing rain. When there’s ice everywhere, it is hard on everyone. Ice diminishes the joy of winter considerably. However, the complete absence of snow diminishes winter joy even more so.
- Spring is greatly foreshortened. This is something I have to admit I never contemplated when I made the decision at the young (but wise) age of 17 to venture to more northern climes. It turns out that when winter doesn’t really release its grasp until April or May, there is very little time left for spring. Many years we have two or three weeks of spring and then it’s full-blown summer. Not that I’m complaining about summer, but spring is a darn nice season. I had to learn by experience that in order to have a real winter the trade-off is a shorter spring. (Unless, I just realized, you live in Ottawa, which somehow manages to have awesome winters and springs.)
- Winter isn’t cheap. Clearing snow from roads and sidewalks, sanding and salting incessantly to minimize people’s risk of falling (and cars’ risk of sliding), and repairing buildings from ice and snow damage is very expensive, especially for municipalities. But we save money on air conditioning, right?! Oh no, there’s heat to pay for, isn’t there. Hmm, I know; we save on not having to maintain outdoor pools for anywhere near as long! 😉
For me, life is more of an adventure in winter. Sure, you may not be able to get your car out quickly every single day.
But when you can’t get out of your driveway at a moment’s notice, you have the option of walking to your destination through beautiful, magical fluffy white snow, feeling SOooo at one with nature,
or, go back into the house, pour another cup of coffee, and marvel at the beauty that surrounds you.
Photo credits: Jane Fritz, tourismnewbrunswick.ca