We don’t get the winters we used to – for some this is a reason to celebrate – but many of us miss winter, we miss the freedom that comes with a good long solid freeze.
It used to be that backcountry travel was avoided for a few weeks during freeze up and then again during break up – but then for weeks and even month in the winter, you could count on the lakes and rivers freezing solid so you could travel everywhere.
These days freeze up never quite finishes before a quick thaw sets in – and then it starts freezing again and then thawing.
The same is true with the snow. It used to be November and April were muddy and had to be tolerated but you could count on layers and layers of beautiful white snow through January and February.
But now every month has alternating weeks of snow and mud. And you never get the good soft base that makes skiing and sledding so fun.
All this to say, we now get winter in quick, short doses and you have to be ready if you want to make the most of it.
If you’re not careful, you can miss a whole winter without sledding, without skiing or skating, without throwing a snowball or building a snow statue.
When it snows, you cannot hesitate. You must carpe skiem. If you’re dying to get sledding, you must get out sledding as soon as you can on the day the snow falls. The same with skiing. Even harder is outdoor skating, though with the constant freeze and thaw and freeze again, there are more, if quicker, chances to catch those moments of clear smooth black ice.
Because of winter’s ephemerality, I have the last few years used a winter fun list to make sure I got in the winter activities I love.
This shouldn’t be considered a to-do list but rather a fun list – a list of fun things to choose from.
Anyway, the list included here is my personal list – you should definitely adapt it, rewrite it for your tastes and then get out there and carpe skiem!
Also give some thought to what actions you can take to enable our grandchildren to also enjoy winter!
Jonathan Riley, trails and open space coordinator with the Municipality of the District of Digby