People assume that, being a gardener, I must not like winter, that I must constantly be waiting for spring. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I love winter. I nearly wrote that winter might be my favourite season, but then I started to think about all of the great things I like about all of the other seasons too. I definitely can’t choose a favourite! I very rarely find myself thinking, in any season, “Wow, I can’t wait for this season to be over”. What I do find is that I love living somewhere with seasonal changes throughout the year. I do need the variety. In a few weeks, I’ll be ready to dig my fingers into the soil. For now, I’m enjoying the weather we have right now. (I also have minor moments of panic of the coming spring, thinking of just how crazy everything gets once the gardens get going and of all of the planning that I still need to do… Winter is the time of year when I have a wee bit more time to breathe and think.)
At the time of year when so many people are feeling done with winter, I find myself loving it the most. Of the winter months, I feel like February is often the most likely to be snowy. And I love snow! In February, the days are also getting noticeably longer. February was so sunny this year, not at all dreary. I find the combination of longer days and snow so energizing! As is often the case, we didn’t really get much in the way of snow until mid to late January. While many people are saying that they can’t wait for the long winter to be over, I feel like winter just started a few weeks ago! With my love of snow, I always feel like winter is just a little too short – until at least the end of March, I keep hoping for one more good snowfall, for one more chance to ski…
So how do I go through the winter with such enthusiasm? One thing is that I definitely dress for it. Being someone who spends a lot of time in dirt, I’m generally not known for my sense of style. :) That probably goes out the window even more in the winter. Nearly every day for the past few months, I’ve worn snowpants whenever I’ve gone outside. I have some nice black snowpants that don’t immediately look like snowpants, so I’m totally fine wearing them when walking around the city. I also wear longjohns – I find Merino ones great, because they’re really warm, but also thin enough to wear under even relatively tight pants. I’ve rarely felt cold while outside this winter, despite the nippy weather we’ve had. And I’m someone who gets cold really easily. I’ve just learned to dress strategically. Ok, I might look a little dorky, but hey, I’m warm. (As the Scandinavians say, there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.) And don’t start to think this cold tolerance is because I go from a warm house to a warm car to a warm office; I walk to work and nearly everywhere else I go, so I spend plenty of time outside every day.
My biggest tip for “getting through” the winter is to just get outside and enjoy it! Cross country skiing is probably one of my favourite things ever. I often get really excited before I go skiing, and then am afraid that the reality won’t live up to the expectations. And then I get on my skis, and it’s 100 times better than I’d even imagined. Ahh, lovely… I’ve only gotten out skiing twice this year so far (hopefully a bit more to come…), once right in the city and once at Albion Hills conservation area (beautiful trails – highly recommended). I also love walking in the snow, noticing the changes in texture and sound (squeaky, crunchy, quiet…), I enjoy the quietness of snowy days, the art created by ice and snow… I like looking for animal tracks in the snow, looking for signs of the stories the animals have left behind, looking and listening for winter birds, and exploring how animals adapt to winter. I enjoy skating, and seeing all of the busy skating rinks through the city, and in good winters like this year, even seeing people skate on Grenadier Pond and Lake Ontario. And, frankly, I just like playing in the snow! I’ve just never let go of my childhood love for winter, and I hope I never do.
One of my favourite days this winter was probably a really snowy Saturday a couple of weeks back. I started my day with a walk to Broadview Station where I hopped on the shuttle bus to the Evergreen Brickworks. I did some market shopping, and then went for walk in the quarry out back. So quiet and lovely. I had somewhere to be around noon, but after my walk home from there, I had no desire to stay inside on such a beautiful snowy day. I found a friend willing to brave the elements with me, and we headed down to the Beaches to check out the Winter Station art installments along the beach. Very cool. The Winter Stations themselves were neat, but it was also very cool to see the art that nature had created along the shore of the lake. So glad I spent that day outside!
Though I don’t do a whole lot outside with my school garden, I am lucky to work outside with kids in High Park during the winter holidays and March Break. At the schools, we do occasional winter garden scavenger hunts, but other than that we’re mostly indoors in winter. But in High Park, we still get to hike, play, explore… Working outside in the winter with kids is great, because they get as excited about the snow as I do!
Ok, now I feel I’ve given a little balance to Winter! You were in need of a little loving! :)
Happy growing (and skiing and playing and enjoying)!