As the days get increasingly shorter, and our noses get noticably colder, and the world gets just that much quieter, we know that winter is almost upon us. For myself, last year was a bleak and very miserable affair. A warm winter meant no joyful snowfall, bleak winter weather, and just a terrible deadness to everything. A nice, cold, and snowy winter makes nature feel more like it’s asleep rather than dead, and I hope that this winter is more like the ones I used to know than last year’s.
However, even the most wonderful winter weather we can hope for will seem dreary if we’re cooped up playing video games all winter. So here’s a few suggestions on how to stay warm and have fun this winter, in no particular order:
10. Go skating. Many municipalities offer free or cheap skating sessions all year round, but across Canada winter is skating’s time to shine. It keeps you healthy, is relatively safe, and with outdoor rinks opening soon, it’s a great way to get outside. Plus, any self-respecting rink has hot chocolate nearby for afterwards!
9. Build a fire. A big one. Inside or out. There’s a reason they have open pits at the bottom of sky hills, fire is awesome at any time in the day. Even if you have to snowsuit up to bear it, a fire is the winter-time equivalent to a watercooler, and inside they can be romantic and functional.
8. Sledding. Fun for young and old, sledding is a great way to tire yourself out by running up a hill. A quick look online will yield safer hills, but the real thrill of sledding is in the hunt for “The Perfect Hill”. Mine’s still a closely guarded secret…until there’s enough snow on the ground to merit greasing up the Flying Saucer.
7. Cross Country Skiing – While not as glamorous or dramatic as it’s downhill brethern, cross country skiing can be just as rewarding. Many trails go for miles, and will take you to places you never new existed. On the other hand, it could take you to places you frequent in the summer, just to show you how much a bit of axial tilt can change the environment. It’s cheap and usually closer to home than you’d think!
6. Winter Camping – While this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it certainly can be fun. Even though the canoeing can be rubbish, the “ice” can be just as fun to traverse and it might take you to places you’ve never thought possible. It’s a totally different type of camping from the summer, but I’ve heard it’s just as fun.
5. Ice fishing – As with camping, this isn’t for everyone, but it is really fun if you’re with the right group. Sometimes you don’t catch anything, sometimes you get a huge muskie. It’s the nature of the place you are, and the company you keep, which can make ice fishing intoxicating…maybe it’s the copious amounts of beer too.
4. Eggnog with friends – Mmmm, eggnog (and some adult additives). It’s a yule-time tradition that’s worth the time to drink. This type of beverage would be best suited to be consumed either around the Christmas tree while watching Charlie Brown, or perhaps even around the boardgame table.
3. Snowshoeing – Rent some of these little beauties and head out the the hiking trails which are unpassible to those with slender shoes. Similar to snow-shoeing, this hobby can take you to many different places, like the tops of mountains but it will show you it minus the bugs, animals, and noises that you’re used to. Truly fascinating.
2. Play Pond Hockey – All you really need is some skates, a stick, a puck, and a shovel (otherwise known as a Zamboni). Some of the best memories I’ve got regarding hockey have to do with the type played without pads, lines, boards (that aren’t made of snow), or real rules. Just give someone a snow shovel and call them a goalie (no puck lifting), and off you go. It’s a blast on a sunny day.
1. Downhill Skiing/Snowboarding – The ultimate in winter outdoor activities, this fun activity is easily accessible to the general public, and while there can be an element of danger to it, it’s fairly fun to people from ages 3 to 90. It’s a way to get out of the house and exercise, while lift lines and rides add a great social element.