I used to be a typical Canadian who lived for summer and hibernated all winter, dreading the snow and waiting impatiently for the season of outdoor activity to return. I resented being born in a country where I could only enjoy the weather for a few months out of the year. I always wished I could love the colder seasons and not get so down during the long winters but just couldn’t make it work.
Then, one year, I decided there was really no point to putting life on hold just because there is a cold wind blowing and snow on the ground. I bought wool socks, some decent boots, a cute scarf and made a goal to enjoy time outside as far out of summer as I could. I got to about the end of October and slipped back into old habits but I got out again early in the spring and enjoyed that first soft spring sunlight on my face for the first time. Every year, I got a little further into the fall, always commenting to my husband how beautiful our favourite hiking spots must be in the winter where there aren’t any leaves on the trees to obstruct the views.
I would enjoy late fall hikes and walks around town on mild and sunny winter days but never seemed to make it back out for a hike. That was until last year, when we brought our puppy home. She needed to walk everyday, no matter the season. She loved the snow, the dog park and long nature walks. We bought thermal clothing; I got even thicker socks and better boots to keep up with her. Soon, I was taking her to the dog park and playing with her in the snow in January. We were taking her on long hikes in February, when the winter storms let up and the sun started coming out again. In March, we got into a habit of taking her on the hour long round trip walk along a river-side path that leads from our home to a Starbucks, where we would all get a Saturday morning treat.
Last winter was one of the longest I think I’ve ever experienced. It started with big snowstorms at the end of the fall and snowed right up until the last days of April. It was long, and wet, and cold and most people were miserable but the hubs and I couldn’t stop remarking to each other how short winter had felt and how early the first signs of spring seemed to have come this year. We would say things like, “remember when it was -25°C every day? That was weeks ago. It’s so much nicer out now”. We realized that going outside e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y for a bit of exercise with the dog had made the season seem so much shorter and more enjoyable.
Now I find myself looking forward to the leaves changing and falling, the sun growing dim and the forest being quiet and calm under a heavy blanket of snow during every one of our weekend hikes. The season I used to dread has become one of my favourites.
All photos by me and Matt Harrison.
At the end of summer, when the humidity finally breaks and a cooler breeze starts sneaking in, I sometimes get the urge to pack up and move somewhere new. I’m suddenly filled with a need for an unfamiliar view. I want to see mountains, deserts, plains – anything different – when I open my eyes in the morning, not just my beloved crab apple tree.
I’m not sure why I get this feeling. We bought this house two years ago and have been working hard to someday make it exactly what we want it to be, and I certainly don’t want to leave it. Neither was I afraid to buy it and stay put after a decade of moving around a few different cities in Southern Ontario. Maybe I’m craving those same feelings of dreaded apprehension and excited anticipation of unknown possibilities I had when I moved the 200+km from my small, rural hometown to a much bigger city for college.
There were miserable times during that first year where I was feeling horribly lonely and weak but knowing that I did something I was afraid of and survived and grew from the experience has me feeling like I need to build on that experience and do it again. This time I could do it with more money, knowledge and opportunities. I could take my support system and loved ones, my small family of man, dog and cat, with me! But what do I do with the house? With the life we’ve built here? My husband has finally found a job he loves, working with people he respects and for people he’s appreciated by, that won’t be easy to find again. I’ll miss watching the crab apple tree outside my bedroom window turn a fiery red, lose its leaves and cast a bold and barren silhouette against the white winter sky, fill with fluffy pink flowers, buzzing with bees and grow its perky little apples again.
Maybe what I’m supposed to be craving at this point in my life is travel.
Socks McGregor Socks
Photos by me and Matt Harrison.