Friday, November 19, 2010

Let it Snow: Fun Friday XII

Me as an Ice Pirate - my first spongee team

TGIF, dear readers,

After last Friday's response was so disappointing (thanks to Lisa for her kick-ass entry!), I was tempted not to do another one of these. But let's give it one last shot.

It's winter in my part of the world. My least favorite season. When people hear that I hate the cold, they always tease me about why I chose to move here in the first place. Good question. This city is renowned for its cold winters. However, it also has a pretty awesome, unique communications course, which is all I was thinking about when I packed my bags.

I grew up in a northern wasteland. I moved from one freezing climate to another, and I've had about enough of winter. So for this Fun Friday, please share your favorite winter memory OR a winter survival tip.

The only trick I've found to make winter bearable is falling in love with a winter sport. My poison of choice is sponge hockey, a unique-to-Winnipeg sport. It's like ice hockey, except we wear spongee shoes instead of skates and use a sponge puck (which isn't anywhere near as soft as it sounds). I suspect the rules are a little different, too. For instance, there's supposed to be no contact in spongee, but as one of my team's bruisers, I can tell you that isn't the case. And women get away with a lot more than the guys do.

I first started playing spongee with my boyfriend at the time. I'd never tried it before, and wasn't sure I would like it. And I was nervous about running on the ice in those funny shoes. I soon found the sport to be addictive. It was fun, it was fast-paced, it was fantastic exercise, and it gave me something to look forward to in the wintertime. I've played spongee when the windchill registered -53C and never even noticed the cold.

After my relationship ended, I joined a women's team. It was a revelation. For once, female players weren't relegated to the sidelines, or there just because they "had" to be (in spongee rules, a co-ed team requires two women on the ice at any time. Unfortunately, no rules force the guys to actually pass to you or even acknowledge your presence). Every one of my new teammates could have wiped the ice with the best men on my former team. They were fast, they were tough, and they were skilled. I was in awe. And I was very flattered that they accepted me as one of them.

Unfortunately, due to all the other demands on my time, I had to pass on playing spongee this year. But I will miss it. And winter will seem twice as long, I'm sure.

Your turn! What's your winter story/survival tip? And if you don't get winter, I'd love to hear about that, too! Let me live vicariously through you.

7 comments:

  1. Probably my favorite memory of winter is going down to the lake as a kid for new years. We used to sled down the hill out onto the lake and snowmobile around the roads and once I remember going for a late night walk through the paths from cottage to cottage and then back to our cottage by walking down the lake. It was so cold my Uncle George's scotch and water froze on the walk.

    As for my winter sport it is skiing. If we lived by hills it would be downhill, but we don't so its Xcountry. This year I hope to learn to skate ski more proficiently. Skiing is the freaking hardest cardiovascular exercise I know. It is total body because it involves arms and legs. It gets the heart rate going like you can't possibly imagine.

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  2. We live in the country and winter has it's own challenges with caring for animals, living out of town down a gravel road. We believe in being as prepared as possible and in being ready to have 'snow day' fun farm style!

    Generators, food, fuel, pellets for the wood stove and fun snacks. Movies and games, activities and planning for adventures when the sun comes out and the wind dies down. Bon fires roasting hot dogs and making cheater s'mores, running with the dogs in the snow, making snow angels or sitting in the house watching the snow fall.

    There is some thing wonderful about brightly colored grosbeaks against the snow, the bossy little chickadees and the silly blue jays, the last eagles and ravens soar overhead. The toys are packed away, the dogs feet get iced up and we are putting on layers of clothes but we know there is a cheery fire and hot chocolate and mochas when we get back inside.

    Cuddling on the couch, getting ready for both Christmas celebrations. Once the holidays are past we start looking forward to spring. Our Aussie friends are right into late spring, and we are looking Mother Winter in the eyes...what a wonderful world!

    Survival tip: keep phones charged, get CAA, have blankets, candles, flashlights and spare winter clothes in a storage tub which goes in a vehicle with you. Always have extra food and stored water for people and pets, extra medications if needed and be aware of windchill factors and road conditions. Watch the weather maps and know if a storm is coming then you can be ready to sit it out...in comfort and safety.

    Thanks, Holli, for not giving up on your Friday fun. Sorry I missed the one last week!

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  3. As I trudged shivering through the dark unplowed parking lot after leaving the swimming pool this morning, the wind whipping the snow in all directions, I wondered at the hearty lot of people in Winnipeg who choose to live here despite the wicked cold in the winter. For me it’s almost like a badge of honour. I wear my “Winnipeg Winter Survivor” badge proudly. (The rewards in the spring and summer are most definitely worth it!)

    So how do I survive? Simple: I don’t let winter stop me and I don’t make excuses for it being too cold or too much snow. I walk to work pretty much every day throughout the year and am constantly amazed at the beautiful city we have. The rivers, the trees, and the amazing skyline that looks different at every time of the day every time of the year.
    I run outside throughout the winter, I slide with my kids, I have tried my hand at skating on our spectacular river trail (the warm-up huts they had there last year were incredible), I snowshoe, I started XC skiing two winters ago, and when I visit my parents in Ontario I hop on the snow-machine and go for a ride. If you are prepared for the weather and dress accordingly you open your life to so many fun and exciting experiences! (And then of course there’s the crackling fire, hot chocolate laced with Baileys and mulled wine for afterwards.)

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  4. Instead of telling one single favorite childhood memory, I will regale you with all the reasons I love winter. Like Holli, I also grew up in a frozen wasteland. When I left home, I moved to a warmer climate, and discovered that I just missed winter too much. So here are the things I love about winter.

    1) The cold. I love the way the cold air makes your cheeks tingle. Breating in the cold feels like breathing in the purest air on earth. I love the way the cold smells. You might say "Cold is a temperature, it does not have a smell" But to me it does. Have you ever smelled your dog's fur as it comes in from the cold at -30°? Before the fur has a chance to warm up, it smells like the cold. The cold is a wonderful place to be so long as you are dressed for it. Survival tip: Wear lots of layers.

    2) The snow. When freshly fallen snow blankets the earth, the world is pure. It is clean. Looking at a white wilderness (whether urban jungle or prairie plain) makes you feel that the world is not such a bad place after all. Everything is new. Everything is clean. Pristine. It is also a great building material. I remember building snow forts on warm days and using them for make-believe sessions for the entire winter. Many castles fell to the invading army in those days. Survival Tip: Wear boots. Snow is less beautiful and fun when it gets above the tops of your sneakers.

    3) The frost. On a cold winter's night after a good frost, the world is encrusted with sparkling diamonds that reflect the streetlights as you pass. Survival tip: take off your glasses. You cannot immerse yourself in the beauty if you can't see the frost on the ground for the frost on your glasses.

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  5. Sorry, it would not all fit in one post...

    4) The Christmas tree. Well, Christmas in general, really. My family has always put up a christmas tree very early. In the days of the wooden trees, usually the first week of december. Now with the artificial trees, they tend to go up in November. I get Christmas for a month and a half. I love it. When I was a child, one of my favorite memories is sitting in the living room with my mom first thing in the morning. We would get up early, before the sun was up, and turn on the tree. The tree would be the only light on in the entire house. We would sit and gaze at the beautiful colourful lights and drink coffee (for me hot chocolate) by the multicoloured aura it cast.

    One year, my Dad was working overseas over christmas. He was working in the middle east. It was the year Desert Fox became Desert Storm. He got on the plane at the beginning of December, and we expected him home the second week in january. Mom had planned to just keep the tree up a week longer for him. But he did not come home when he was supposed to. The tree died and we had to take it down. My mom was Devistated! We needed to have a Christmas tree when dad got back, or we could not have Christmas with him at all! Mom went out and bought a small potted pine to sit on the coffee table. She went to the craft store and bought tiny little glass balls to hang off the branches. One of the craft stores even had a small cellophane angel that was just the right size to go on top.

    The angel was not for sale. My mom argued and told the store owner the story about how her husband was trapped in the middle east during a war. How she had bought a little Christmas tree for him so we could have Christmas with him when he got home. "This is the only angel in town the right size." she said, then she burst into tears. The clerk gave in and the little cellophane angel went on our little potted christmas tree.

    All our presents were stacked under the coffee table, and the tree sat on top. January turned to February, and still Dad was trapped overseas. The little tree started to sprout new growth.

    That year we had Christmas on Valentine's day. It was the first Christmas that Dad was not home. That little tree kept Christmas alive in our hearts until Dad finally came home.

    Christmas survival tip: Don't think that Christmas has to start a week before the day, or that it has to end the week after. It is good to rember the true meaning of the day and hold it in your heart all year. Also, start shopping early. Like in summer. It is much easier on the pocketbook to buy the presents one or two per month, instead of all in December.

    P.S. I also love Fun Fridays, but I did not comment last week because I just could not think of a single living person I would want to interview. My heroes are all dead, I'm afraid.

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  6. I am so glad you had fun playing with us! We are going to miss you this year! And admittedly hockey and spongee are becoming mild obsessions of mine during winter!


    I, too, am not a fan of winter. I wonder if I continue to live here because of the challenge or that I'm just a glutton for punishment. However, there are the rare moments when winter is beautiful and loving. The beautiful being the hoarfrost, wood burning fireplaces and sundogs. This will not be a story, just a reflection. The highlight of any winter for me is mid December to first week of January. Although, I am not a religious person, I still get excited for the festivities of Christmas and the energy around my family. Every year I make the drive home which I always encounter a storm either on the way there or the way back. I am getting so good at driving in terrible conditions! I spend 4-5 days eating, laughing, bonding, and talking with family. I am not the most family centric person, but as I get older, the more I look forward to seeing them. We all get so busy with life that we take too much for granted and at this time of year I am always reminded how in an instant it could all change.

    Winter survival tip:: To build on a previous comment... you could have countless other things but I definitely recommend a shovel!

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  7. Picture it. Cuba. Blue skies, white sand, amber rum. We are on our way back from a day tour in Havana when we see a school at the top of a steep hill. The driver says several buses drop off and pick up children as it is a main school fom the surrounding area. Thought # 1 - man, that hill must be a bitch for buses in the winter when it's icy. Thought # 2 - this is winter, idiot :)

    Okay, favourite real winter memories.
    1. Getting a call one night from my friends saying "go outside and look up". As per the instructions, I got bundled up, took a cardboard box, went to my friend's house and plopped myself beside her in the snowbank and watched the Northern Lights for over an hour as they lit up the sky in greens and blues and pinks and purples.

    2. Trips to toboggan hills than went on into university.

    3. Winterlude. Skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, looking at the ice scuptures, eating beavertails.

    4. Looking up into a snowstorm and feeling lost and dizzy when all you can see is the endless sky full of snowflakes.

    5. Taking young kids out to make angels and snowmen in fresh snow.

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