The Canadian winter has been exceptionally long this year — longer and colder than usual.
Winter began in our part of Ontario on November 23, 2013 with an early snow storm. Our family gathered at the cottage that weekend for the fall clean-up after the leaves fell from the oak trees. Despite attempting to rake wet leaves during heavy snow, by mid-afternoon, we abandoned the job and the leaves remain buried under several feet of snow. We hunkered down in front of the fireplace while the wind howled outside. On Sunday morning we awoke to a winter wonderland.
Nobody expected the November snow to stay. Usually Ontario gets a couple of snow falls in the late fall before the ground freezes and winter sets in. Not this year! Instead of a melt and a gradual winter début, snow kept falling and storms kept coming.
Back in the city, we replaced our old snowblower — just in time for the next big storm that happened in early December.
Then came the ice storm on December 22 that paralyzed Toronto and area. The storm took down several limbs of a big Silver Maple that provides beautiful summer shade off our back patio. The driveway and walkway were skating rinks. Along with the ice came frigid temperatures that meant the ice did not melt away. All stores, including the big box outlets, quickly sold out of ice-melting salt as below zero weather kept the ice from melting naturally.
Since January, southern Ontario has enjoyed only two or three days when the temperature rose above freezing. Last week another storm left drifts 12 to 15 inches deep on the driveway — enough for my car to get stuck as I tried to get it into the garage. No weather for sissies!
Despite all the snow, the cold temperatures and the unrelenting winds, I’ve loved this winter. Yes, I’ve shovelled snow, had my fingers turn blue with cold, and experienced more than a few snow showers from operating the snow blower. Non of these have put me into a winter rage or created a sense of overwhelming seasonal depression.
My hip replacement prevents me from risking winter sports like skiing or skating but I’ve found many diversions. As I write this blog, the temperature is -8 Celsius, the sky is a brilliant blue, and there is fresh white snow everywhere. Beautiful!
Here are some of the diversions that helped me get through the winter of 2013/2014.
1. I went outdoors everyday — sometimes to clear snow; sometimes to take pictures; sometimes to walk; sometimes just to get from my car to the gym for a yoga class or a swim!
2. I celebrated every holiday and a couple of birthdays. Celebrations included entertaining for Christmas; going to the cottage for New Year’s Eve, a special dinner on St. Valentine’s Day; a swim fest and lunch with our grand-daughter on Family Day; and several lunches at favourite restaurants.
3. I played lots of bridge — sometimes as often as three times a week! I also attended bridge lessons to improve my game.
4. I devoted myself to knitting projects including finishing my first pair of knitted socks and starting the second pair, knitting a Christmas sweater and hat for our grand-daughter, and knitting a toque for my husband.
5. I stayed glued to the television during the Winter Olympics enjoying the feats of Canadian athletes — especially the female athletes. The Canadian team performance in women’s hockey final was a nail-biter!
6. I’ve read several interesting novels for my two book clubs. I’m now working my way through the five finalist books of CBC’s Canada Reads 2014.
7. I experimented with new recipes in my slow cooker and cooked sustaining soups and stews which were perfect nourishment on the coldest days. I baked bread regularly and kept a stash of home-baked bread in the freezer.
8. I indulged in the luxury of chocolate, various types of tea, red wine, and single malt — all in front of the fireplace!
9. I slept under the warmth of an electric blanket and a warm duvet.
10. I wore more clothing to stay warm. I enjoyed wearing woollen sweaters that had languished in drawers during previous winters. I bought sturdy boots that serve as snow tires for my feet. Of course, I also enjoyed wearing my hand-knitted woollen socks!
During this late winter season, there are signs of a slow transition to spring: the intensity of light has changed; days are longer, and the sun feels warmer. These are indications that spring will show up eventually. Meanwhile, I’ll survive this long winter with my books, my knitting needles and lots of time for reflections about the many blessings in my life.