Project Winter Love

During the winter months, the subarctic and I have a tenuous relationship.

The summer months in the subarctic are great – the short, warm nights make things like long bike rides after work, hikes in the valley, picnics, drinking wine on a patio with friends until late, getting up at 4:30 am to hit the gym before work and whatever else tickles my fancy – easy to do. In fact during the summer, it seems live I a whole year because 6 hours of sleep seems more than enough when the sun only needs about 5 before it starts a new day.

winter coming

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  • Old Man Winter means hibernation and a whole lot of layers.

To survive winter up here, you have to be rather organized and resourceful. I already get up before most of the world is awake, but the alarm gets set back even further to a time that starts with the number 4 in order to accommodate my coffee drinking requirements, the time it takes to find all the required layers for the day and the mandatory windshield scraping so I can avoid running into things while driving to the gym at 6:17 am.

Driving home at 4:45 pm and for it to already be dark outside is a hard reality to face; it means by 9:00 pm my body thinks it is about midnight and I find myself in pyjamas and drinking tea wondering what happened to the evening.

I have lived in the subarctic for 18 winters and not thoroughly enjoyed even one of them.

  • Winter will not change, so change I will.

Enter Project Winter Love.

Instead of complaining and bemoaning how dark, cold, long, depressing and hard winter is, I have decided to like it, to enjoy it. Seasons are important – you can’t do everything in every season; there are times and places for things and when they come, the key is to dive deep and enjoy what you can in the season you are in.

season

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A huge part of living a good life is drinking in all of what life has for you in the season you’re in … even when it is dark, hard and cold.

  • Project Love Winter involves three key elements — gratitude, sport and adventure.

Gratitude.

Taking time to feel the bitter, winter air freeze your nose hairs, *ahem* I mean smell the roses, is always a good practice. Winter up here in the subarctic is rather beautiful. Hoar frost covered trees, icicles, mountains drenched in snow drifts, one of kind snowflakes and northern lights are just a few of the winter gems which are easily overlooked by moi.

Hot drinks, wine in front of a roaring fireplace, winter sports, the stillness that comes from a giant snow fall, sweaters and fabulous winter accessories are all things I do not get to experience when it is light out until 11:30 pm.

  • Bring on the sweaters baby!

Last weekend while out for an early morning 22 km run with some other crazy women, I had to stop and take a picture of the river as we traversed the valley on foot for a few hours.

Edmonton River - Winter

You don’t see this in the summertime!

Drinking in beauty always makes your soul a little bit bigger and your face break into an amazing smile.

And I do have to say, there is nothing quite like feeling the -40 weather chill you to the bones in less than a second; at that moment it is very clear how alive you are and being alive is a good thing.

Sport.

Put me on a bicycle and I am a happy woman. Seriously.

In the summer, if I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day the best way for me to remedy the situation is to put on some spandex and clip into my pedals and cycle until my heart is content. An hour or two later, I am drenched in sweat, carefree and happy.

My x-country skis are literally waxed and ready to hit the trails. It finally snowed the other day, and not just a little bit. As my cute car and I slid into the office parking lot with the heated seat on high, I couldn’t help but smile and wonder when the trails will be groomed and ready to have me be ridiculously happy on them.

Edmonton river valley winter

I am looking forward to seeing gorgeous views like this as I ski along this winter.

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  • I was very happy to see the snow pour from the skies.

Plans for skiing in the evenings and on the weekends have been made with friends and I cannot wait to make my first snow angel in the snow when I fall over … because I tend to fall over. I may be sporty, but I am also very clumsy.

Ski-Loree anyone?

Adventure.

There are many, many things that I rarely do and avoid during the winter – no more. I have started a winter adventure list of fun things to do this winter.

A few random things from the list:

  • Hot ‘beverages’ and northern lights
  • Snowshoeing in the mountains
  • Knit giant wooly socks and hope they fit – knitting can be QUITE the adventure if you’re me …
  • Hypothermic half marathon?
  • Birkebeiner …. maybe?
  • Hikes in the National Parks
  • Light a fire in my fireplace and let it snow (I am officially afraid of burning my condo down)
  • Christmas lights at the Legislature and Candy Cane Lane
  • Outdoor running and fitness races
  • Bonfires and sledding with friends
  • Christmas shopping on Whyte

The best part of adventures are having them with people you love, so friends get ready to be recruited to enjoy winter with me this year.

Heck, I may be convinced to try downhill skiing again, but that would take a whole lot of courage to look death in the face again; although this time I suppose I don’t have to go down a black diamond I could simply be reasonable and stick to the Edmonton ski hills and bunny hills.

Am I the only one who has struggled to embrace winter?

A down-filled jacket, additional base layers, cold weather running gear, headbands and windproof shells have been dug out of the closet or were bought in August and those hand warmer and foot warmer things will be bought in bulk.

Having what you need to ensure you don’t die a slow, cold and frozen death makes everything better – especially heated seats in your car. I am sure a woman invented heated seats.

I would love to hear your suggestions and things you do to enjoy the winter months. What makes your heart sing about winter?

What is on your Project Winter Love list?

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Comments

  1. Tiffany Miller says:

    Donloree,

    I love winter! Why? I run a seasonal business and after crazy spring, summer and fall I have time to smell the fresh air. In addition to loving crisp air, as a seasonal allergy sufferer everything is dead in winter so I can smell!!! For me winter was never my favourite season, but I’ve learned to love it.

    1) I set a weekly date with my friend Marcelle to snowshoe. After snowshoeing we hug her cows. It’s amazing how hugging animals is great for morale.
    2) I set a weekly date with my friends to stitch and bitch.
    3) I embrace the dark by lighting candles and swaddling myself in cozy knits and spend hours in the gentle glow of my kindle.
    4) Once a month I go out and try a new restaurant.
    5) cats, no more needs to be said here.
    6) Ice skating and hot chocolate!
    7) Baking and Soup
    8) Snow!
    9) No involuntary sweating

    I could go on.

    Tiff

    • Tiff – I love all of these ideas. YES! I need to go buy some firewood and candles STAT. Also, no involuntary sweating is only true if you don’t find yourself stuck inside with all your outdoor layers on. 😉

  2. In 2014 I left California, mostly for family reasons, ad moved home to Nederland, CO, 8,000 feet above sea level, ad where hurricane force winds are normal in winter. Though I only stayed back for one winter, I really did get good with it, even continuing my life as a bicycle commuter. Though I never hugged a cow, snowshoeing was occasionally necessary.

    Now I’m back in Fallbrook, it’s been in the 80s for most of the autumn, and I am absolutely sick of summer. I miss the winter, the one that I was afraid of my whole life Turn turn turn…

    • The change is season is actually quite welcome, I agree. In fact this winter has been a welcome change for me in a lot of ways – the cold, darkness, winter wonderland beauty, the GIANT moon as I drive home … peaceful in it’s cold fragility. Its simply the harshness that sometimes comes which I avoid and yet when I embrace and experience it, I usually figure out something brat about myself. This morning after my 16km run in the -10, I came home to a glorious hot shower, coffee and a sense of coziness that you can’t find in any other season. 🙂

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