My Aunt Liz lives on a homestead outside of Rockglen, Saskatchewan. Aunt Liz writes a weekly email, keeping numerous relatives up-to-date on the births, deaths, weddings and birthdays of our widespread family. This week, after pondering the fact that, while others flee to warmer climes, she and my Uncle Cliff remain, braving the bitter cold, Liz compiled a list of why she loves the winter.
Here is her list:
After some thought, these are the reasons I've come up with for loving winter.
1. I love the sound snow makes when it crunches underfoot. You always know how cold it is by the sound of the crunching. When it's deep and chunky-sounding, the temperature is around minus 4 to 16. But when it squeaks and has a high-pitched "skreek, skreek" sound to it, the temperature is usually much below that. Between the sound of the snow and the noise made by your jacket sleeves rubbing on your jacket and the legs of your ski pants rubbing together, you can make your own kind of music -- kind of like a one-man band!
2. There is nothing so spiritually uplifting as the sight of a whole, untouched, pristine field of snow absolutely covered with diamonds glimmering in the sun against a deep blue sky. It takes your breath away. It can fill you with awe. The fields seem to go on forever and you feel as though you truly do own the world!
3. I love the feeling you get when you take a deep breath of cold, fresh air. It's bracing. It's shocking. It can even make you shake your head like a dog coming out of the water. It revives you immediately, and for some reason it makes you feel happy. When you breathe in that cold air, it's absolutely cleansing. All your troubles seem to evaporate. You just can't help but grin from ear to ear.
4. The unique blue of a winter sky is worth waking up for -- even when it's forty below.
5. There's a restfulness to the land in the winter -- a calmness. It's reflected in the soft greys, blues, pinks and mauves of the sky. The colours envelop you and make you feel like snuggling into a pile of warm blankets and pillows and nesting while you watch the incredible sunrises and sunsets.
6. If there were no winter, we wouldn't experience that special thrill that occurs when you suddenly feel the warmth from the sun again after a couple of months of its absence. There's a period of time when you can see the sun in the sky, but it just appears to be like an ornament above you and it has no effect on the land. With that first warm feeling comes a huge sigh. It's like realizing that "yes, the world will continue, the seasons will go on and spring will come again."
7. There is nothing like the inspiration you get from the beauty of sculptured snow. The waves, the incredibly sharp, carved, undulating edges, the curls and serpentines seem to be frozen in time and yet are changed on a whim by the actions of a fickle wind.
8. Hoar frost must be one of the seven wonders of the world. There's nothing quite so beautiful as seeing the whole world clothed in white. It takes all th "edges" off everything. The land -- hills, trees, everything -- becomes rounded and softened. Snow and frost take all the angularity off the hills and leave them "gentled".
9. There is something wonderful about the smell of woodsmoke in the air. It reminds you of family gathered around; of laughter, warmth and home. There's a kind of a juxtaposition between walking in the cold and thinking about the indoor warmth that awaits you. When you're driving, even the slightest scent of woodsmoke can call up those visions immediately. There's a comfort in it.
10. I have a fascination for the way sound travels over huge distances in the cold air. Far away sounds seem to be right beside you. Alternatively, there are times when there's no sound at all. The world is empty and silent. When fog or low cloud covers the bench, sounds swirl all around you. You can't tell where they come from because they're encased and muffled in cotton batting clouds.
11. I love the wooliness of animals in the winter. Horses, deer, cattle, rabbits, cats, dogs are all covered in coats that look thick, rich, and plump. The colours are deeper. You just want to hug them all. Even birds have thicker feathers, incredibly dark colours, wonderfully feathered feet. They just look cosy.
12. Winter covers all the sins of the world. Every yard, every piece of land, every corral and barn looks clean, neat and fresh. There are no comparisons to be made. Snow is the great equalizer.
13. I love the gentleness of the days and the quiet rhythm of winter. You can take time to think, drink coffee late in the mornings, try things you never have time for at other times of the year.
14. There is nothing like a bowl of homemade soup on a brisk day to hit the spot. It's sheer comfort food!
15. Curling up with a seed catalogue or a gardening magazine during a long winter day is wonderful. Everything seems possible. Every dream can become a reality.
16. A simple cup of coffee or afternoon tea with a homemade cookie is a winter treat not to be ignored. There's nothing that's as much fun as a little conversation and a warm 'cuppa' while the snow is blowing outdoors.
17. Opening all the windows and airing out the house in winter is a treat. Feeling that cool, brisk air and smelling it on all the furniture and bedding after the windows are closed is just wonderful. It's worth doing even if you're chilled for awhile.
18. There's a coziness to days spent indoors while you watch a storm raging outside. There's a bit of bravado connected with it as well, I think. "We're survivors! Look at that awful mess out there and we're still alive and comfortable." Maybe it's even a bit of hubris and we'd better be careful!
19. Crawling into bed on a cold winter's night and snuggling down under the duvet is a treat only people who live in a cold climate can appreciate. Of course, it's twice as difficult in the winter to get out from under it in the morning, but who cares? It's still dark out anyway. Who wants to be up?
20. Wearing bed socks to bed is a winter treat.
21. Watching the days lengthen and the angle of the sun changing from late November until early March is one of the most interesting (and time-consuming) parts of winter. Each day you can plot the hours of daylight and watch to see when the afternoon hours begin to change and when the morning hours are earlier. Which happens first? Why? It's a chance to see the scientific part of our world at work.
22. There's nothing as beautiful as snow when it's picture-postcard soft and falling in huge feathery flakes. There's nothing that's more fun than walking and running through powder snow when it flies up in your face and seems almost weightless. Watching the dogs run through that kind of snow, frapping with the pure joy of running every which way is just the best.
23. There is nothing that's more fun than making snow angels on soft days, and snowmen on sticky days. Snow provides its own fun. It's great to toboggan on, ski in, snowboard over or just hike through. It's best, though, when you catch the fresh falling snowflakes on your tongue. Mmmm.
24. It's a feeling of sheer power and joy when you're the person who's the first one to make footprints on a field of new snow. Walking through the yard and looking back to see where you've been and looking forward to an open space in which the possibilities are endless is like nothing else in the world. Connected to that is the fun of seeing who else is inhabiting your world after a snowfall. The tracks of mice, birds, rabbits, deer and coyotes tell entire stories if you look carefully enough. You can tell when the rabbits have had a party -- especially when the moon is full. In fact, in winter all wildllife is more visible. It's a great time for watching deer, winter birds and examining all the habits that change with the weather and the seasons.
25. There is a kind of macho feeling and a challenge to doing anything in the winter -- travelling especially. Where else would one experience the thumping of square tires, the blinding fog in your vehicle when the snow is sucked into your defoggers, or the fun of trying to find the best tool to remove the frost from your car windows. The problems and questions that are raised are enormous with many possible repercussions. Is a credit card better to use than a bookmark? Which is stronger? Will they accept your credit card when it's been cracked? How do you glue your social insurance card back together? And of course there's that timeless question every person who lives in a winter wonderland has to ask at some time or another: "Should I or shouldn't I put my tongue on that metal pipe?"
26. There is something wonderful about seeing Christmas lights through the winter frost. What a welcoming sight when you drive out of the darkness into that soft, light in your own yard knowing that someone you care about thought enough to put those lights there and to turn them on knowing you were coming home.
27. Add to all of these the fun of walking free of any jackets or heavy clothes inside the school, with a friend to talk to, while the weather outside is "frightening"; and barbecuing on the patio when you have to run in and out as quick as you can to keep from freezing; and eating rink burgers -- at least once a winter -- complete with french fries dripping with ketchup, vinegar and salt and a cup of hot chocolate and you have most of the reasons why I couldn't live without winter in my life.
Aunt Liz is a former teacher and principal in the Rockglen School District. She still remains active in town festivities and functions, as well as being beloved Nana to two grandchildren, wise mother to two grown children and an all-round amazing woman!