January is over. The initial embrace of winter is passed. The Christmas hype is done, and the decorations are down (except maybe the lights -ain’t nobody got time for that). New Year’s resolutions have been made, and subsequently abandoned. And soon, we’ll see what the groundhog says about the rest of winter.
Let’s face it, living in Canada, it doesn’t matter what the groundhog says, because there will always be at least six more weeks of winter. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it though. Sure, winter has its downsides – like the one day you forget to plug your car in overnight and you actually need to be somewhere in the morning. But if you think just a little outside the box, it can be an amazing time of year.
Living in the Present
Many of us prefer the warmth of the summer air, and sunshine that lasts deep into the evening. However, the danger in lamenting the warm weather gone, or yearning for the summer to come is that we miss the joy in the season of now. Beautiful memories can be made in these snow-covered, mitten-clad months of white. Sometimes we just need an idea or two to get us started.
How to enjoy a Canadian winter
- Go on a Sleigh Ride. Bundle up, grab a thermos of hot chocolate and snuggle under a blanket while two beautiful beasts take you on a tour of your winter wonderland. This is a great idea for the family, for a girl’s day, or even for a romantic date.
- Snowshoeing. If you enjoy hiking or going for nature walks, it doesn’t have to stop in the winter. Buy or rent a pair of snowshoes and explore nature. Nowadays, you can get pretty fancy snowshoes – I have a pair of ultra lightweight ergonomic women’s ones – and it feels like nothing on my feet. Not cumbersome like the old-school wood and twine ones. But if the vintage ones are more your style then go for it.
- Dogsledding. Many places offer dogsledding tours all across Canada. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it! The talented pups and their mushers are quite the sight to see, the whole team working as a synchronized unit.
- Ice fishing. This can be as simple or “luxurious” as you like. I’ve seen people sitting on upside-down 5 gallon buckets fishing with a stick and a line. I’ve also seen ice shacks that would rival the square footage I had in my first rental. Add a good heater, a cooler of beer and some good company and you’ve got a recipe for a good time.
- Make (and eat!) Snow treats. Yes, I said eat. Just make sure you don’t use the yellow snow! There are some delicious treats to be made using snow. One is maple syrup taffy. Pour some boiling maple syrup on the snow and voila! Maple taffy! Or make snow cones, snow ice cream, or snow margaritas.
- Skiing or snowboarding. While the price of going seems to be increasing every year, it’s worth it to go at least a couple times during the winter. There is nothing quite like flying down a mountainside carving fresh tracks in the powder. Some hills even offer child care!
- Make an epic snow castle. Really go all-out. Make it impressive. The kids will love it, and soon will be fighting over who gets to be Elsa.
- Ice skating. Whether it’s on a frozen pond or river, an outdoor rink, or an indoor recreation complex, ice skating is another one of those activities everyone can enjoy. Kids love skating, and it’s not hard to get enough people together for a game of shinny. Not to mention, how cute would it be to take your significant other on a skating date – think, the adorable skating scene from “Elf”. Awe!
- Get crafty. I love bringing nature inside the house. All sorts of natural items from stones to flowers can be used for decoration and crafting. But that doesn’t have to stop just because snow hits the ground. Winter is a great time to collect and create using spruce and pine, dried berries, rosehips, pinecones, etc. Make a winter wreath, or fill a mason jar with pinecones and berries. Be creative!
- Go foraging. You can still harvest some wild edibles in the winter. Rose hips, as long as they are still firm to the touch, can be harvested for teas or jellies. Labrador tea is actually considered an evergreen, and can be harvested in the winter. Boiling pine needles can make a tea that works wonders with the common cold (just be sure not to harvest from the poisonous yew, ponderosa, or Norfolk Island varieties).
- Curling. Hurrrrrry! Haaaaard! One of my favourite winter sports is the rock-throwing game of curling. A perfect blend of strategy, skill, stamina and coordination, it is a game that will keep your mind and body constantly engaged.
- Local events. Every community has their own local events. Keep an eye on the community calendar in your town to stay up-to-date on what’s going on in your area. From the Ice Castles in Edmonton to the Jasper in January steet party, there’s always sure to be something going on nearby!
If all else fails…hop on Expedia and book the next flight to Mexico.
What are some of your favourite winter activities? Comment below and share!