Dillon Giancola: Winter is here


January, the perfect month to throw on your snow pants and the wool socks your grandma knitted for you, and lace up your skates for a lap around the outdoor rink. Unless, of course, it’s -35 degrees outside.

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Normally, I’d be more than happy to stay in for a Saturday, crank the heat in my home, and watch a hockey game. However, when it’s this cold for seemingly an entire month, it’s only natural to lose hope, and dream of warmer days.

The frustrating part is, here in the North, we had two month’s worth of relatively good-weather days in November and December. Unfortunately, I find in November I’m still coming to terms that winter is here, and in December, I’m too caught up in everything I have to get done before Christmas. I don’t worry about making the time to cross country ski because I know there’s plenty of winter left to come.

It seems in my winter-activity procrastinating, I forgot to allot for the eventual -30 degrees onslaught. Did I really think we would make it through an entire winter without freezing our faces off and needing to plug our cars in?

Foolish me, I should know better. That’s the thing with winter and living in Canada — no matter how long you live in this climate, you’re never prepared for the cold, despite a lifetime of evidence that the cold is indeed coming.

Still, all is not lost. Hold fast, my friends, for I believe warmer, if not brighter days, are up ahead. And by warmer, I mean like -15 degrees Celsius. After all, beggers can’t be choosers.

It might not be this week. Heck, it might not even be next week, but as sure as the sun will rise, we’ll get another stretch or two of nice weather.

The reason I’m making such a big deal of this now is I’m realizing how much fun could be had outside in Fort St. John this — and every — winter. After years of thinking it would be nice to get back into cross country skiing, I’m finally ready to make the plunge and buy a pair.

There’s nothing more pleasant than snowshoeing through a snowy, forest trail, and seeing tracks left by like-minded people who have gone before you. Unless of course, it’s -42 degrees outside. There’s nothing pleasant about that.

We’re lucky in Fort St. John to have plenty of outdoor skating options. The good thing about going for a skate is you don’t need to be good at skating, or in good shape. Just getting out there and skating a couple laps of Matthews Park until you’re cold and sore is enough to feel good — both because you forced yourself to exercise, and enabled yourself to get some sunlight.

Which is why this cold stretch feels so disappointing. As we try to get back in the swing of our regular routine, and try to make a go at our New Year’s resolutions, it’s only natural to feel a little bit of pressure to be better, and negativity that the holidays are over. One way to counter that is to make sure you’re getting lots of sunlight and Vitamin D, as well as exercise. Going to the gym feels is so much harder when you have to warm your car up for 20 minutes just to drive there.

Yet, winter is long. The High On Ice Festival is around the corner, as are the 2020 B.C. Winter Games. There are still plenty of special events, and winter days, to enjoy the great outdoors.

In the meantime, I recommend not skating outdoors this week. Frost-bitten feet have never done anyone much good.

Stay warm, read by the fireplace if you have one, and make sure your vehicle is plugged in. Get your skates sharpened so you’re ready to go as soon as the weather turns, and call up your friends to make a plan to get a game of shinny going.

Sure, the weather might suck right now — that’s the understatement of the decade — but it has to warm up eventually.

Just as a lifetime of living in the North has taught us that these unbearable temperatures are inevitable, it’s also taught us that the cold will give way to a random -5 day out of nowhere, and, for at least 24 hours, all will feel right in the world. 

Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca

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