Monday, 21 January 2013

Baby, it's cold outside

Saskatchewan in January is cold. 

Really cold.

Having grown up next to the Gulf Stream, I have become spoiled by mildish winters that yes, do dump a lot of snow (like the winter our swing set completely disappeared under 6 feet of snow) but are very rarely really frigid. Now I have never lived up north, so possibly I don't completely comprehend what real cold is, but today feels pretty profoundly freeze-your-face-off cold. I am starting to understand why Laura of the Little House was always afraid of getting caught out on the open prairie in winter, and wrote that burrowing into a hay bale might not even keep you from freezing to death.

She was not kidding around. It is cold. Yesterday it got down to -43 celsius with the wind, and my friend Alison asked me how could we survive in that kind of conditions. She lives in New Zealand, where my girls were fascinated to learn it is now summertime, where they can wear summer dresses and have barbecues on Christmas day. Humph.

I want to go there.

Anyhow, that is not going to happen this year, so we are doing our darndest to embrace and survive the arctic temperatures of this strange new land. So I thought I would answer my dear Kiwi friend's question in photos. Here is what we do...

We skate outdoors...

 Play lots and lots and lots of Playmobil...

Bundle up in three or four layers and go sledding. Yes, despite what everyone thinks, there are actually plenty of hills in Saskatchewan. And to think I sold our big wooden toboggan, believing we would not need it!

We do lots of crafting. The craft supplies live in the kitchen and are kept well-stocked, creating the very best way of passing a brilliantly sunny but painfully cold day. Yes, I am trying to teach the girls to knit, a crazy-making process if ever there was one.

More sledding, snowshoeing, skiing, and when that gets tiresome we can head to the thermal hot springs for a good soak. Sorry, no pictures of that as it is too steamy.

Read, a lot. Just finished Maeve Binchy's last book, and started Kate Morton's latest escapist tome, the Secret Keeper. Dan is into Watership Down, again. Katherine is very engrossed in the Canadian Flyer series of historical adventures, and adores the Ivy and Bean and Thea Stilton series.

Winter geocaching. Yep, if geocaches are located on trails you can even do it in winter. It is a great way to get everyone moving outside, especially if there is the promise of a little swag in the cache.

Make up games to play, in this case Ava's latest creation, "Doily beads." She always wins.

Sleep. We do that very well on chilly mornings when the sun slumbers late and no one wants to be the one to get up first.

Keep our sense of humour. Too much time spent indoors can make people a wee bit grumpy, so we try to avoid that. It doesn't always work.

To sum up, we blunder through somehow, and have made it through our first month of prairie winter. Although it is true that a summer breeze seems like a far, far away dream, we remain cheerful mainly because we are mostly a fun bunch, and on the bright side the sun shines almost every day, bringing at least the promise of spring.

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