Enjoying Winter?Saturday, January 26, 2013 by: David Root
Well, there is no doubt that winter is well and truly upon us. It’s hard to believe that a few short weeks ago it was pouring rain and what snow we had a Christmas was being washed away.
Regular readers will know that I’m not a big fan of winter, and for me "enoying" and "winter" don't often appear in the same phrase unless preceded by the word "not."
Still, It’s a beautiful time of year — especially on bright, sunny days like today — and if you’re into winter sports and outdoor activities, then you might have trouble understanding why I’m not a fan.
I do like cross-country and downhill skiing, although I no longer own any equipment nor can I afford to rent equipment and spend a day at one of the nearby resorts.
I tried ice fishing a few times, but that’s not really my thing, either. (Brrr!)
One of the problems is that I don’t do cold very well.
Yes, I know how to bundle up — wearing layers of clothing — and stay warm. But still, I can only last so long.
Many years ago, when I was 17 or 18, I was involved with a church group that was planning a canoe-camping trip for one weekend in May. To prepare for the trip, the leaders decided we would have a canoeing evaluation session, with everyone pairing up and demonstrating that they could handle a canoe.
This was done in April, at Nettleton’s Lake in the north end of the City.
The ice had only been out a few weeks, and while no one took the temperature of the water, there was no reason to expect it could be considered “warm.”
Long story short (too late?), the first few pairs paddle out, spun the canoe around, and paddled back. I decided that my partner and I would instead make a long, sweeping arc out from shore and back.
This would have worked quite well, except… I chose to start by heading to the left, planning a right-hand arc. Unfortunately, the wind, which was somewhat brisk, was coming from the right.
As we both dug our paddles in on the left side of the canoe, the right side lifted up and was caught by the wind, spinning the canoe over and dumping us both into the frigid water.
We swam for shore, were pulled out of the water and hustled into a van, driven to the nearby house of one of the leaders, stripped and thrown into a warm bed to re-warm.
My 12-year old partner was warm and ready to go in a few minutes, but I was still shivering so uncontrollably that someone else had to hold a mug of hot chocolate to my lips. It took well over a half hour for me to stop shivering.
Since then, as long as I stay warm I am fine. But if I get chilled — especially my hands or feet — I’m done.
Still, as much as I dread its arrival and cheer the emergence of Spring, I’d rather live here with winter than somewhere further south with tornados or hurricanes.
Speaking of living with winter…
I need to say a few words about driving in the winter.
First and foremost, please, SWEEP OFF YOUR VEHICLES.
Yes, it might blow off, but usually when that happens you create white-out conditions for the motorists behind you.
It is more likely, however, that only a portion will blow off — unless it is freshly-fallen, light, fluffy snow. All too often I see vehicles that look more like snowbanks with wheels than any recognizable model, with drivers peering out peepholes in the front windshield.
Aside from saving yourself the $110 fine, you will help to make the roads safer by sweeping-off your entire vehicle — especially the windows and the head, tail and signal lights. You need to see, and others need to see you.
Also, please, SLOW DOWN.
I don’t know if people are just always running late, or just in the habit of driving 70 or 80 km/h, but it is especially dangerous in winter conditions. Roads are slippery, especially at intersections, and snowbanks obscure visibility for both the drivers pulling out from behind them and those on the road who are trying to avoid them.A note to some drivers of four wheel drive vehicles: Yes, your truck goes fast in the snow. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop any quicker than any other vehicle. In fact, because you’re typically driving too fast, it may take even longer to stop. Please, slow down.
Next Friday the 50th Ontario Winter Carnival Bon Soo opens. I spent many hundreds of very cold hours at Bon Soo in the '90s, both as part of the Bon Soo committee and providing first aid with St John Ambulance.
This year I will be at the opening ceremony watching Korah’s own Mustang Sally perform with local singer Johnee Rae Whalen. It should be quite a show with Johnee Rae, winner of CMT’s reality show Big in a Small Town, performing two original songs!
I must confess to a small amount of bias, as I am one of the adult mentors (along with Jason Young and Pam Stafford) working with Mustang Sally this year. It’s a great group of kids who have worked hard and really come together under the direction of their talented music teacher Greg Ryckman. They put on a terrific show!
I have been lucky enough to be involved in a few local theatre and musical productions, and have attended dozens more. I am always amazed at the depth of local talent here in the Sault, whether musical, dramatic, or artistic. I really believe that we too often take for granted how many talented individuals we have, locally.
Hopefully it won’t be too cold on Friday. Even if it is, bundle up and head down to the Bondar Pavilion for a great show, including Mustang Sally.
Hey… if we have to have winter, we may as well find ways to enjoy it.
But… that’s just my opinion.