I used to get quite grumpy about winter. The short dreary days sapped my energy and made me long for the financial wherewithal to afford a trip to somewhere featuring the blazing sun, surf and drinks that involve pineapple.
While the Shuswap generally has mild winter temperatures, especially when compared to other parts of the country, it also has what one person described to me as “suicide weather.”
There’s something about the endless overcast skies that often defy the best efforts of any ray of sunshine to make you feel a little blue.
To me, winter used to be a burden to bear until the first crocuses began to poke their heads up through the soil.
But my outlook on winter turned around for me some years ago, thanks to, of all things, a pair of boots.
Sorel boots changed my life.
You know the ones — those not-so-fashionable but incredibly serviceable mid-calf length lace ups, the bulky ones with the thick felt liners and the waterproof rubber.
They might be ugly, but they are warm.
And I discovered something that turned my winters from bland to grand. When my feet are warm, winter can be a whole lot of fun.
To the boots I added snowshoes and began to tromp the forested hills and valleys of our fair region. Exercise, fresh air, and, if you got up high enough above the cloud cover, some sunshine, made a remarkable difference to my mood.
From there, I took the next step into winter sports by adding a set of cross-country skis to my gear. Heading up into the Larch Hills ski area is truly a transcendent experience.
Those who have been up there for a ski, snowshoe or even just a visit to the chalet, know of what I speak. With the snow clinging like icing to the trees, the sun reflecting diamonds off the open bogs, it is the epitome of a winter wonderland — made that much better by the scores of friendly faces who meet, greet and offer encouragement to you on the trails.
Now that my kids are old enough, they are enrolled in the Jack Rabbits ski program, which is run by wonderful volunteers who work incredibly hard to ensure that all the youngsters enjoy themselves out on the ski trails. (It doesn’t hurt that each lesson winds up with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, either.)
After having to miss the first Jack Rabbits lesson due to the lack of snow on Dec. 8, I found myself cheering as the snow began to fall during the past week.
And then I knew, I had really become a convert. I now welcome the snow with wild abandon, thinking of when my next chance will be to get out in the fluffy white stuff, be it sliding, gliding, shushing or stomping.
People might look at me strangely when I tell them a pair of boots changed my life. But for all you winter-phobes, I’d recommend giving it a chance.