Winter in Canada you ask? Isn’t it winter all year, way up north past the solid line on a map?
Well let me tell you a little bit about where I live. I live close to a town called Orillia, Ontario, Canada. It is a beautiful place in the country and we love it!
Our property has about two acres of lawn, so on November 14th, 2013 I mowed the lawn for the last time (in a t-shirt cause it was so unusually warm), cleaning it up so when spring comes there isn’t a lot of long, dead grass.
The following weekend we got about four inches of snow, the beginning of our winter wonderland which didn’t leave until after Easter.
It was so cold the car wouldn’t start cause the gas was frozen and when you sat on the seat it felt like a block of concrete instead of foam and when you breath in your nostrils stick together. We had a way above average amount of snowfall, approximately 120 inches, with temperatures averaging around 5F. The kind of winter that when it actually warms up and hits the freezing mark, you go outside in just a sweater cause it’s so warm.
Everyone is saying how this is just like it was when we were growing up.
With six months of weather like that, one has to find things to do so you don’t go insane and start banging your head against the walls you’ve been staring at. There are all kinds of winter sports, skiing (downhill or cross country), sledding, snowshoeing, skating, and building snow men and snow forts.
This year we decided to take on snow shoeing! We bought a couple of pairs and figured out how to get these huge metal and plastic frames strapped to our winter boots. You have to bend over to buckle them, which isn’t the easiest when you are wearing two pairs of pants and snow pants, two sweaters and a winter, down filled jacket, ear muffs, scarf and two pairs of gloves! You already can’t feel your toes cause you have at least two pairs of socks on and the circulation is poor once you’ve tied your boot laces tight enough so you don’t have to bend down in half an hour to tie them up again after they’ve managed to wiggle themselves undone!
All the while you are getting ready to go out you have to convince your brain you really don’t have to use the washroom again cause you were smart and went before you started getting dressed…but it never fails to fool you. This is all of course, after you have spent fifteen minutes helping your child get all his stuff on, snow pants, coat, boots, hat, mitts, scarf etc. only to take it all off cause you forgot to check with him to make sure he went to the washroom before he got dressed up.
We manage to convince our son who is 3 ½ that it’ll be fun to sit in the sled and get pulled around the snow in 5 degree weather for an hour, and off we go, up the road onto our neighbors property to trudge through her ninety five acres of fields and woods. We get to the beginning of the field only five minutes into our walk and our boy says, “I’m cold, I want to go watch a movie.”
I think to myself “there is no way we put all this stuff on (sometimes twice) and got ready to go out in the cold for five minutes of snow shoeing”, so I put on my happy face and say, “But it’s going to be fun, we’ll look for animal foot prints and maybe we’ll see a deer or a bunny, we’ll find you a stick you can drag in the snow!” and we keep going.
The snow is so deep in some places we sink in up to our knees even with snow shoes on, but that’s OK cause it’s a great workout: we go through the trees and listen to the birds and look for the elusive tracks we never find, we explore logging trails in the woods and try to make it fun for our boy by stopping suddenly and then running (as fast as you can run with snow shoes on), tipping the sled back and forth, occasionally going a bit too far and having to stop and wipe the snow off his face. In one spot there are a lot of fallen logs covered in 18-24 inches of snow, so we go up and over these, down through the fields trying to stay out of the wind that has whipped up and started blowing snow around. I think about how beautiful everything is washed in white, the dark trees are a stark contrast to the whiteness, it is so bright, beautiful and clean.
Then I hear “Mummy I’m cold can we go home now?”. I’m just getting into the excitement of it all so I look at my husband. He also has the look of “I’m done, let’s go home”. So off we go, back in the direction of home. I could keep going for another hour but I know if we don’t get home now we’ll have a full melt down.
I stop to look back over the fields.
There is something so beautiful about seeing the tracks of a snow shoeing family.
It’s breath taking and for a minute I actually feel thankful for living in such a beautiful place with the four changing seasons. I try to imagine what it’ll be like up here when it’s all brown from the winter, little flowers poking up through the earth, blades of green grass foraging their heads through the dead remnants of last years life.
Then I get the sudden freezing blast of wind and snow in my face, and I’m so thankful for my nice warm house, hot chocolate and movie time with my boy!