I know we’ve just met, but I need to tell you something: I hate winter.
Even though I’ve lived in Canada my entire life, I’ve never (in my adult life) had an affinity for the snow-filled months. Instead, I can be found wrapped in heavy sweaters and blankets while sipping on tea and likely complaining about the temperature. My mood drops and my entire body is suddenly bone dry.
So, yeah. You could call me a Winter Hater.
But this season, I’ve had an unexpected mindset shift. I came to the clear realization that I’m not moving south anytime soon, which ultimately means I can’t escape winter. So, rather than fighting and grumbling about it, I knew what I had to do: I had to learn to embrace this season.
So, I reached out to my friends and family for advice. I asked them: how do you embrace winter?
And, boy. They had answers.
I’m taking their tips, ideas and insight and working (really) hard to do what they’ve all been doing for years: embracing all that winter has to offer.
So, if you’re a fellow Winter Hater and daydream of summer days, here are some ways to try to explore all that winter has to offer here in Lanark County. And – who knows – maybe you’ll even enjoy it.
1. Try Something New – Outside: When a friend suggested I try out snowmobiling, I almost spit out my coffee. I’ve never been before, and never expected to go. But, why not? Many live and breathe snowmobiling come winter, taking annual trips that create lasting memories with their spouses and friends.
While my own first snowmobiling experience may include baby steps in an open farm field, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs has groomed trails running all through Lanark County.
If you’re open to trying something new, but not jazzed about hopping on a snowmobile, then what about Ice Fishing on Mississippi Lake, cross-country skiing at Murphys Point Provincial Park or snow tubing at Mount Pakenham.
2. Enjoy Winter’s Solitude: The quiet that comes with winter deserves its own category. Whether you go for a walk at night with your dog or discover the trails on foot or snowshoe, you’ll get to draw in the fresh air, feel the cold on your cheeks and soak in the quiet landscape that surrounds you.
Last winter, I strapped on snowshoes and hit the Rideau Trail. I still talk about the experience. With a trail that runs from Kingston to Ottawa, you have plenty of opportunities to discover nature and scenes filled with winter’s offerings. You can go as a family or join the Rideau Trail Association on their weekly trips. The Beckwith Trail is also is perfect escape for some solitude, fresh air and exercise. The Beckwith Recreation Complex even rents out snowshoes, so it’s the perfect way to test it out.
3. Stay Warm: Now staying warm I can do. While grabbing a café latte from Picnic Café and picking up a new book from Backbeat Books and Music is my preferred way to stay warm, there are many other ways to discover warmth during winter – including Hot Yoga. Hamsa Yoga in Carleton Place offers Hot Yoga classes where they push up the room temperature to 100-degrees Celsius and you sweat…a lot. I can feel my mind and mood lift by moving my body, challenging myself and getting rid of any toxins. It’s a cleansing experience that also allows you to slow down, focus on the breath and warm the body. If Hot Yoga is a bit too hot for you, Hamsa Yoga also offers a Warm Yoga class that’s both less intense in movement and temperature.
4. Get Together With Friends: While it’s tempting to stay inside your home throughout winter, one friend offered up a great suggestion: make weekly or bi-weekly arrangements to get together with friends! Create new traditions with friends over a new hobby, laugh over good food or get competitive while playing a sport. That’s a winter formula I’m all for. Here are some great ways to connect with friends while trying something new: go for Tapas and half-price wine at the Stone Cellar in Perth on Wednesdays; sign up for a painting workshop series with JB Arts in Almonte; meet for weekly ski lessons at Mount Pakenham (yes, they have adult lessons!); or sign up for Indoor Soccer at the Beckwith Recreation Complex.
5. Re-discover your inner child: With a four- and six-year-old at home, I can’t help but soak in winter. My kids’ own excitement for the white stuff is contagious, and brings my own unexpected joy to experiencing the weather myself. On weekends, we zip up our snowsuits, grab shovels and dig in. In our very own backyard, we’ve made forts, snow slides and snowmen. Last winter, I felt complete exhilaration while lying in the snow beside my kids making snow angels and letting the snow fall on my face. This winter – and because our kids are that much older – we’ll be heading to Conlon Farm in Perth to toboggan down the snow hill. We’re also going to discover the gorgeous outdoor Gerry Lowe Skating Rink in Smiths Falls. These experiences remind me of my own childhood days when I’d build my own snow forts in the front yard or lace up my skates and head to our backyard rink that my dad spent hours building for our family. These are the lasting traditions that will generate so many memories for our young family.
I’ve literally always tried to get through these cold months by dreaming of the warm sun hitting my face on a hot, summer day. But, this winter: I’m going to change that. Instead, I’ll make a promise to myself to uncover winter’s delights in Lanark County. And – who knows – maybe I’ll even call it my favourite season.