The year I fell out of love with winter

In my last post, I mentioned being constitutionally incapable of going outside on New Year’s Day when I still lived down east–i.e., 1975-1999. But after I left the east coast, where the damp cold had this malicious way of seeping into your bones and never leaving, I went to South Korea. Winter in Seoul, anyway, is a lovely thing. The year I was there, there was a record snow fall of something like 2 cm. It almost never went below zero C. It was delightful. Unlike when I lived in Halifax, I didn’t have to change all my clothes, turn the heat up to 30C, and huddle cursing under a blanket for several hours to warm up. It was the definition of civilized.

And then I moved to Kingston, Ontario. It’s colder there than in Halifax, but it’s not damp. It’s this divine thing called dry cold. You need to wear a puffy parka that makes you look like a large, shapeless baby but you’re cozy–when you’re outside. Ditto for Toronto, which is warmer and much less given to snow than Kingston is (although it is snowing right now).

Ontario made me love winter, and I don’t even do any winter sports. It just looks so nice. And it’s so delightful to walk around in the parka and the boots and be warm and enjoy the brisk air and kick snow about and not feel like you’re contracting arthritis of the feet just walking to the bloody bus stop.

Then the joy of sitting inside during a pretty little southeastern Ontario snow storm is not to be rivaled. Everything just looks so clean. And then, this weirdness: shoveling snow is actually really enjoyable when your insides don’t feel like they’re turning into a slushy pool of cold agony. (This is a good thing, because I’m shortly going to have to go shovel snow off the roof.)

Winter and I were good for a solid 12 years. But then, this past summer, I discovered the pure joy of very long, fast, recreational cycling. Also, running outside. And now the former is impossible until all the snow is gone, and the latter has become an extreme sport.

I went running in the snow this morning. I have all this crazy cold weather running gear, so I was perfectly comfortable temperature-wise. But I felt like I was running the slow motion run of an exhausting and unending nightmare. No traction, and so the normal amount of work yielded about 60% of my usual speed. I was barely moving at a pace above a walk! It was a good workout though, so I suppose I can’t complain too much. But the dogs in the park looked like they were having a great deal more fun than I was, and this offends me.

I would like to work on my relationship with winter and try some outdoor sports like cross-country skiing. But as I live in a large urban centre, I’m not sure how to make it happen. Also, it sounds expensive. Then, there’s ice skating. I recall loathing ice skating as a child because my feet became shrieking blocks of ice in approximately 3 minutes; but maybe SCIENCE can come to the rescue on that one with the genius of chemical foot warmers.

And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the gym; watching the no-neck supplement-heads CRUSHING IT is enjoyable, from a sociological perspective. But I’d really rather be outside, so I think I’m resigning myself to just hunkering down and waiting for spring to begin peeping nervously over the horizon…Until then, more books and more hot chocolate.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Terri B. says:

    I think a dry cold is like a dry heat! I grew up in Arizona and a dry heat is more tolerable — up to a point. 110 F is still oven temp even dry. Have noticed 40 F near ocean will bite your face off yet 40 F in Colorado is quite nice. Great post! Enjoy your books and hot chocolate 🙂

    1. Colleen says:

      I *do* enjoy my books and my hot chocolate…
      I’ve never experienced the dry heat. Here in Toronto, we have what I have termed the hellish hot heat–full humidity plus a delicious aftertaste of smog. I used to love summer, once upon a time…

  2. Alex says:

    I used to be completely neurotic about snow because although, in your terms, we don’t get that much in the UK, when we do get some everything grinds to a halt and getting around becomes an absolute nightmare. Now I don’t have to get out to work or to look after other people in theory it should be better and to some extent it is,but I still hate the way that it stops me doing what I want and getting where I want to go. I fell out of love with winter some time ago.

    1. Colleen says:

      It does limit mobility, for sure, no matter how mobile a person is. It’s all melted here though–it’s warm now. As in mid-April warm. It won’t last but I’m enjoying the terrible fruits of global warming nonetheless.

  3. heidenkind says:

    I feel the same. My main outdoor sport is archery, which is impossible when you’re wearing gloves and a fluffy coat. I can manage as long as the temps don’t go below 50F (not sure what that is in Celsius…), but it hasn’t been that warm since November.

    I also ski, and it’s really fun. But it IS expensive. Also, driving for 2 hours in 3 layers of clothing is no one’s idea of a good time.

    1. Colleen says:

      Archery! That sounds really fun. But yes, too cold on the fingers these days. Here’s to spring coming early this year…

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