Winter starts officially at 10:08 PST on Friday, December 21. How many of us will find cause to celebrate? I’ll be honest with you, I find that the older I get the less I enjoy winter.
As a child I would spend all day outside in winter; sledding with my brothers on the hills near our house, playing hockey in the driveway for hours (or until we couldn’t find the ball in the snow banks any longer) or building snow forts. We would be soaking wet and shivering with cold, sure candidates for pneumonia according to our mom, and yet we survived.
Today, even in the Great White North known as Canada, we seem to have lost much of our tolerance for cold and snow. If the temperature drops below zero we complain about the temperature. If snow falls we grumble about bad roads. Those of us who can, go south, following the geese.
We who are left behind seal ourselves off from the elements and turn up the thermostat, then we complain about the cost of natural gas or electricity. Winter is a season to be painfully endured, with no redeeming features.
Could it be that our attitude towards this most Canadian of seasons is contributing to the length of that season?
The less we like it, the longer it seems to last.
I’ve decided that this winter will be different and I propose that, beginning with the Christmas “holidays” we embrace, rather than endure, winter. It’s really not that bad you know, especially in the Okanagan Valley.
There’s virtually nothing that could blow in or fall from the sky that a pair of winter boots, a scarf and a good toque wouldn’t allow us to deal with comfortably. Here in Paradise we’re never subjected to full-blown winter storms like we saw in eastern Canada last weekend, where authorities requested citizens to stock up and plan to stay indoors for three days.
Why not plan over the next few weeks to spend most of your day outside? Start in your own garden, there’s so much to see. In my small garden there are red stems from the Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ (Redtwig Dogwood) and the ‘Therese Bugnet’ rose. The flowers of the ornamental grasses twitch and sway in the winter breezes. The large rose hips of Rosa rubrifolia stand out starkly against the backdrop of the Colorado blue spruce.
Take your new-found love of winter onto a local trail. If there’s a creek running nearby watch how the water dances through the ice. Notice the birds flitting amongst the berried trees and shrubs. Try to identify the tracks left behind in the snow by wildlife.
If we’re really fortunate we can do this while snow is falling from a cold, grey sky. The world turns silent, save for the muffled sound of our boots shuffling along the trail. It’s winter in Canada.
May you enjoy the beauty of winter as never before, and may all of you have a very merry and blessed Christmas.