Embrace the Winter

photophoto Around this time of year, you start to hear a lot of people moan about the winter. The Groundhog has everybody excited for spring. I hear it at work,” Winter sucks!” “I am tired of winter.” Well sports fans, the fact of the matter is that in North America, we have what is known as change of seasons. The summer is nice, the spring is welcome, the fall is beautiful, but if you are not involved in winter sports or activities, this can be a bad season for the uninitiated. But whether you ski or not, I think it is important to embrace the winter.

Take a look at the picture above of my wife Janet and me on our weekly Sunday snowshoe outing. You will notice a smile on her face as she is having a good time in the snow. This is something for a girl who would rather have her toes buried in warm sand somewhere looking at the ocean. Now I like that too, but Janet has learned over the years to embrace the winter and we have other activities besides skiing. Snowshoeing is a great one. You can get them on the internet or from LL Bean and actually go on introductory outings with LL Bean where they show you the finer points of snowshoeing with hot chocolate and treats afterwards. http://www.llbean.com You can do this activity at your local park, golf course, or even right out of your door. Six inches or more of snow is all you need for some real fun clomping through the snow drifts like a kid!!

A couple of weeks ago, we got together with some other couples and hit our local county park skating rink. Now many of us had not skated since high school but we all decided it would be fun and afterwards we came to our house where I lit up the outside fireplace and Janet made chili. Where else can you pay admission for 2 bucks and rent skates for 3 bucks. Great night, moon shining, snow glistening, cold ones and chili afterwards. Embrace the winter man!!!

For those of us who want to get aerobic exercise, don’t give up in the winter. There are lights by Nightsun, Nightrider, and Cree that you can use on your mountain bikes and ride the trails all winter. This will be the subject of a later post but suffice to say that if you are willing to wear some warm clothes and use the light, your riding season will be all year. Our local club the Pittsburgh Off Road Cyclists have weekly rides and the Lord of Lumens-Bob Bannon, will assist anyone who needs lights in the winter riding season. http://www.porcmtbikeclub.org You can use similar lights by Cree and Petzl available on the internet and local sporting goods stores that you can wear on your head. They are basically a headlight on a band that you wrap around your hat and you are good to go running trails all winter long. Why come home and hibernate under a blanket, eat yourself silly, and wait for The Biggest Loser to come on the boob tube. Get out there and get some exercise in the winter- you will sleep like a baby!!! Be The Biggest Winner!!!

How about tubing, or sledriding? I saw a couple the other day on our county golf course with a 1940’s vintage Flexible Flyer that was lacquered to perfection. The guy said his dad gave it to him and he and his wife were having a ball sledriding- all by themselves. I saw another guy while I was snowshoeing with my buddy John Staab who was an older guy on cross country skis making his way around the trails that surrounded the golf course. I greeted him and he replied “How are you there young fellah.” Now I have not been called young fellah for some time now but this guy was defintely older than I was and was flying on the xc equipment. Lots of golf courses, trails, and ski resorts have xc centers with trails that are maintained with track setters waiting for cross country skiers to use them. Now some people will tell you that they don’t have time,- kids, activities, games, etc. Where there is a will there is a way. You have to either get up at the butt crack of dawn and do it before work, or you bring all of your gear with you and make a deal with your spouse to do it several nights after work arranging it around work, games, practices,your wife’s schedule, and the like. Then share activities between you and your spouse on the weekends. Excuses just hold you back from enjoying life. Carpe Deium!!

One final embrace is just to go out in a softly falling snowstorm. My wife remarked how muffled everything sounded with the falling snow. The quiet overtakes you and if you stop, you can enjoy nature in the winter in its finest beauty. Sometimes you don’t have to do anything but enjoy the snow, the moon and the stars on a clear, cold winter night, or the brilliant Alpenglow of the mountains in the late afternoon. Just get out and walk and you can enjoy winter in all of it’s glory. Snow, sun, fresh air, mountains, trails, dormant golf courses, are waiting for you. Winter is great. Enjoy it!! Thanks for reading.