December 11, 2018

By  PAUL BOREHAM
Brrrr … It’s cold outside. Waves of white steam pour from peoples’ noses and mouths with each breath as they painstakingly negotiate icy pavements, wearing tortured expressions, before making a final, desperate sprint for the warm and toasty indoors.

Do we have to go through another winter? That’s the prevailing sentiment as Earth wobbles around to the far reaches of the sun once more, with us in the northern hemisphere tilted away and denied its warmth and light. While winter may be a pain in the butt and a licence to complain, the belief here is that winter is an opportunity for awakening.

It all starts with dress. Clunky galoshes, drooping hats of all colours, over-sized mitts, and layers of unseen undergarments are essential – the kookier and wilder the better. Winter can be an ongoing Halloween ball. We need an extra skin and loads of artificial fur.

The region is full of opportunities at this time of year. Chicopee ski hill is just one, right in the heart of Kitchener. Students will want to take advantage of $20-$30 deals Mondays and Wednesdays. It’s worth a go.

Winter can be really tough for some people, though, says Pauline Loucks, a counsellor at Conestoga’s Doon campus. Normal routines are often abandoned because of the cold; the outdoors becomes a hostile place to avoid. The lack of sunshine and exercise results in a general malaise, which can become debilitating. “About 15 per cent of people suffer from the winter blahs,” she says, and that number is probably higher. Seasonal affective disorder is the worst-case scenario, requiring medication and therapy.

Healthy eating, exercise, outdoor activities and social interaction will all go a long way in staying happy and healthy through the cold and dark winter. Balance is the key word she emphasizes.
The rec centre, while still under construction, has a large fitness room with various treadmills and weight equipment just waiting to be used. An extra benefit is a nice view, with floor-to-ceiling windows letting in large doses of sunshine – just the jolt required for a perk-up.

If not that, curl up with a good book and dream of those “faraway places with strange-sounding names,” as an old song goes – places like Machu Picchu and Timbuktu. Or start planning a glorious career. However, do get outside and create snow angels in the snow, tongue stuck out for a taste of the heaven-sent cotton candy. It might be delightful.

One aspect of this winter that is providing some comfort is that it’s turning out to be very interesting due to the El Nino weather pattern blowing our way. So sit back and enjoy the show.

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