Thursday, January 20, 2005

Walking on the Water

Yes, of course, it's winter in The Great White North, so the water is frozen.

Each winter, for the past four or five that we have been coming here, we eagerly look forward to snowshoeing on the frozen river. Last year, we got here a little late, and the weather warmed up a little early, so we only got out on the river once or twice during our first week or so of our vacation. This year, because we arrived somewhat early in the season, we have not ventured the river until yesterday. In a normal year, we would most likely feel safe earlier than we have this time around, but with several brief, but mild and rainy intervals, we haven't felt safe until now.

Cuppa from the river with an old barn in the background. See her blog for yet another picture from the river.

One of the great things about taking a winter retreat is that you can go places that are out of bounds in other seasons. In spring, the black flies and boggy areas limit one's explorations. In summer, it's the mosquitoes and the leafy undergrowth. But in winter, you can go anywhere; you don't have to stick to the paths because there are no bugs to make your life miserable or bogs to prevent access. Neither is there full-leaved undergrowth to prevent your path.

You can go anywhere in winter — just so long as you have snowshoes — even walk on the water (possibly without snowshoes).

In summer, it may get too hot to exert yourself much, but winter always allows you to stay warm, regardless of the frigidity of Arctic blasts. You simply don another layer and find yourself very comfortable out in the elements. In fact, although this may not seem intuitively obvious to many, the real trick for winter enthusiasts is actually to remain comfortably cool, for you may be tempted to wear too much. Subsequent exertion will then be followed by heat build-up, perspiration, and soaked undergarments.

Fortunately, modern, high tech, winter clothes perform yeoman service for the winter enthusiast. The proper underwear will wick away moisture and keep one pleasantly warm and dry. Both my liner and outer shell contain not only the standard front zipper but zippers on the sleeves as well. So, you see, you can do a lot to regulate and dissipate the heat that your body emanates. Try that on a hot summer day; you can peel down to the bare essentials if you so desire (and if you meet the right criteria I may request that you, indeed, do so), but you will not obtain genuine relief out-of-doors and sans AC. The occasional dip in a cool stream won't hurt, but by the time you towel off and get decently attired, you may as well not have bothered — to say nothing of extreme irritation of hobbling about with sand in your toes ... and perhaps in other bodily regions as well.

I know that this information doesn't, at first blush, seem to help you much if you are stuck in a winter-bound city and must contend with snow-slowed traffic and all sorts of weather-related inconveniences. Despite that undeniable reality, however, you may be encouraged to bundle up for a nightly stroll and/or for a weekend walk in a relatively proximate piece of recreational land. I mention not the winter sport options — for they may be price-prohibitive for many and beyond the physical capability and/or endurance of others (such as I) — but those options do exist and may be viable and exhilarating alternatives for some.

Have you considered going north and enjoying your own climate rather than yearning for that brief southern, mid-February escape? Good grief folks, summer is coming anyway, and you'll spend much of that season pleading for merciful relief from the heat. Why rush it? Why not consider going north for a brief mid-winter getaway be it only for a day or short weekend.

Of course, that's the additional benefit, for if you choose to embrace winter, the doors of opportunity fling wide for brief and sometimes spontaneous getaways. You don't have to shut yourself indoors and park yourself in front of mindless television drivel for months on end, putting your life on hold while awaiting that all-too-brief week in the south or even for summer if travelling to exotic resorts is beyond the scope of your time or budget.

You don't have to go very far. We are only about two hours away from Canada's largest city for goodness sake. Think of it this way. Would you rather spend two brief, leisurely hours driving to a pristine winter getaway, or do you really prefer to spend agonizing hours in busy airports followed by uncomfortable plane trips in an effort to enjoy an all too brief, mad-dash winter getaway to the southern climes where you may possibly experience imperfect weather regardless?

I know, and now you know, the option that makes most sense to me. That doesn't mean that I will never try the other option (or that you will ever be convinced to try this one, come to that), but I hope that I will never put my life on hold while I wait for that solitary, all-too-brief week in the sun when vitality awaits me around my own corner — as it were.

So, what are your weekend plans? Going to the blasted mall? Parking your carcass in front of the mind-numbing telly? Or might you consider an hour or two of outdoor invigoration? We both know which option would be best for both your mind and your spirit.

Try it. You'll like it.


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