Lake Simcoe Conservation Matters
How I Made Friends with Winter
By Susan J.
The last time I looked in the mirror, I didn't see a bear reflected back at me. But I admit that's how I used to feel around this time of year. The cold… the dark… the snow… the wind… brrrr….I would literally hunker down for several months in my comfy pajamas, sipping hot tea and watching the world outside from a safe and warm distance inside my home.
In fact, for years, I begrudgingly “put up with" winter, complaining to myself and anyone who'd listen about how I couldn't wait for spring. Then one day I decided, enough is enough! Since winter is such a huge part of our Canadian climate, and clearly my years of complaining weren't making a difference, why not change my perspective instead?
I reflected on the positive benefits of getting outside in winter and even drew up a list that took surprising quick shape. I then began by taking short walks out to natural areas I was familiar with, doing things I loved like bird watching and looking for animal tracks. My change in perspective opened up a whole new world for me, a world of beauty, wonder and dare I say it… fun.
Now, not only do I no longer dread winter, I welcome it! I relish a big snowfall, and the beauty it brings. The sparkling tree branches, the perfectly dusted scenery of freshly fallen snow. I love the crisp, clear air, the crunching sound my boots make amidst the quiet backdrop of the forest. I thank nature for offering me the opportunity to experience different seasons.
My new friendship with winter hasn't been without its challenges. Some days it takes a bit of extra effort and convincing to get outside. But it's always worth it. Here's a list of why winter is one of the best seasons to get outside, along with some tips to help keep it fun and safe.
- No bugs… Need I say more!
- Pick somewhere close to home and start with shorter, smaller hikes. A 30 minute excursion is all you need to boost your mood and energy levels.
- Yes, the days are shorter (because we have fewer hours of daylight), but that just makes them that much more precious. If you do venture out for a walk or hike, remember to leave yourself enough time to get back before dark.
- Sidewalks and trails can be a bit trickier to navigate because of ice and snow, but on the upside, there are fewer people to share them with.
- Fewer people also means less noise, offering more opportunity for solitude and the chance to see more wildlife.
- Always check the forecast before heading out. And if heading out alone, make sure someone knows where you're going and when to expect you back.
- Dress in layers, wearing warm gloves or mitts, a hat, scarf and warm boots with good treads. Many winter days are almost balmy, with temperatures hovering around or above zero. If the sun is shining and there's no wind, this is the perfect day to get out. In fact, you can really work up a sweat hiking through the woods on days like that!
- Wear sunscreen and bring your sunglasses. They're not just for summer.
- Finally, bring along some snacks that won't freeze, and a thermos of your favourite non-alcoholic beverage (my go-to drinks are either hot chocolate or peppermint tea). Because you can get dehydrated in winter, don't bring anything alcoholic. Save that for when you get home.
My change in perspective has taught me that what I thought was a dislike of winter was actually just fear. Now I look forward to every season as each one offers new and different ways to experience the world. So, get out there, no matter what the season, and explore. Nature is waiting.
Tell us and win
Are you a winter friend or foe? Tell us why.
Submit your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 28, 2021 for a chance to win a winter wonderland gift pack that'll be sure to keep you toasty!