Peace In A Tin Can

Peace In A Tin Can

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Game On

I used to hate Winter.  Living where I do, that was a bad thing.  As soon as the temperatures dropped below 50 I began preparing for my winter hibernation.  Once we were firmly in the 30's and the snow was starting to fly, I was done with everything for the next five months.  I stayed home.  I ate junk food.  I gained weight.  I was tired all the time, and had no interest in anything.

Then a few years ago, a friend who grew weary of listening to me complain about Winter suggested I get out in it.  She encouraged me to take a walk each day, and as I became accustomed to the weather, she challenged me to embrace the cold outdoors.

I really didn't want to, but I'm a competitive person, so once she told me how great she was at finding ways to be outdoors during the Winter, it was game on.  If she could do it, so could I.

I began by becoming the rink maid.  My husband had built an ice hockey rink - a rather elaborate affair - in our woods, but I rarely ventured down there when my son and his teammates were playing hockey.  I learned how to resurface the ice, and made it my habit to carry the water hose across our property, down a steep hill, hook it up to the water pump, connect the manual Zamboni, and drag it back and forth, back and forth, over the entire rink.  I did this at 9:00 pm, 10:00 pm, 11:00 pm, and sometimes even later.

The Rink at Night
We had the best ice that year, and for several years after.  My work produced a thick glassy surface on which the boys loved to skate.  I was the Rink Maid, and it didn't kill me.
Backyard Ski Jump

Then I added to my game by becoming the official backyard photographer on Snow Days.  All the kids came to our house to snowmobile, build jumps to ski and board off, skate, and play in the snow.  I stayed outside all day, and into the night,  capturing these youthful images for my kids to forever remember.

The following year, I made a vow to add a walk in the woods daily.  We have a neighbor who owns several acres of woods with two ponds, he allows the people who live in the area to walk the paths he keeps clear.  On one of my walks, I discovered a fireplace and majestic chimney, standing alone among the trees.  There was once a cabin that went with the chimney, but it had burned down.  I was captivated with the chimney, and walked down there frequently to sit on its hearth and watch the creatures in the woods.  I still do that.

Chimney in the Woods

My Snowy Backyard

As much as I hated to admit it, I found that my friend was right.  The more I made myself go outside during Winter, the more I came to enjoy the special surprises of this cold season.  Walking on the ice at midnight brings an unworldly kind of silence and peace.  If the temperature drops below zero, the ice cracks and pops, and the echoes of it can be heard all the way up to our house.  When it snows, I can hear each flake hitting the ground in the woods.  The air feels cleaner, colors are sharper, and I feel good.

Drummond Island Ledges
Last year, I planned to take my game to a whole new level.  I researched a trip to Drummond Island, in Lake Huron.  The possibilities were endless!  Fossil ledges accessible only by snowshoeing, a snowmobile trail across frozen Lake Huron to Canada, the icy tundra of the rare Alvar region on the island all beckoned me to challenge myself and fully experience Winter.  The unusually warm Winter of 2012 put a damper on my plans, but I went to Drummond Island anyway.  While the weather was mild and there was little snow, it still ended up being a wonderful trip because of the people and places there.  I fell in love with the island, and plan to return.

Drummond Island Alvar Region
But this year, I am going a step further in the game.  Next week, I will travel north to the shores of Lake Superior, where I will join a group of strangers to climb the icy cliffs of the Pictured Rocks.  The last several days at home we have been hit with an arctic blast of cold air, and I have forced myself to go outside each day to acclimate my body to the frigid temperatures.  The weather prediction for up north is cold, which is good, because I really don't want to trust my life to a giant icicle when it is 40 degrees outside.  I am so excited to push myself physically on this challenging quest, embrace Winter, and meet other people whose sanity is as questionable as mine.
Courtesy Google Images

As for my friend who got me started on this with a dare, I am grateful to Donna for pushing me to be a Winter person; however,  I'm pretty sure she has never been ice climbing.  Game on, indeed.