Spring is officially here. And even if the temperatures took a bit of a plunge this week, the signs of nature awakening are definitely in the air. Winter, however, didn’t go away without a fight staging a magnificent comeback last week, especially in south-western Ontario and from what I heard along the east coast. So we thought even if winter this year was slightly disappointing weather-wise in our part of the world, it still brought us some memorable moments, like a New Year’s trip to Gatineau or a surprisingly warm Family Day weekend at Killarney and therefore deserved a proper send-off. Windy Lake Provincial Park seemed like a good place for our last glamping trip of the winter. The park’s northern location carried a promise of snow. Plus we’d never camped there before.
Hard to believe it’s been four weeks since our last microadventure at Terra Cotta Conservation Area. Not that the break wasn’t fun. It included a glamping trip in Killarney and a day at the Outdoor Adventure Show, where we gathered information for our summer trips and bought a new tent (can’t wait to start using it). Plus there was our son’s birthday, which we spent bouldering at Boulderz (we had a blast and it only took three days to regain the use of my arms). So all in all the time was well spent.
Where do I even begin?! Glorious weather, mounds and mounds of pristine, sparkling snow, a cozy cabin in the woods — it was certainly a Family Day weekend to remember!
Those who have been following this blog are aware of my frustrations with the extremely un-wintery behaviour of this year’s winter, at least in my part of the world, and the extent to which we’d been going to find even a little bit of snow. So you can imagine my delight when we woke up to a major snowfall this past Sunday. We knew this winter spike might no last long so we dropped all our chores and headed outside. It was magical.
Yes, another trip to Pinery with just as much snow as before, which is none. Well, maybe not exactly none. There was some white dust mixed in with brown leaves along the trails and sand on the beach. But not nearly enough for traditional winter pursuits. Not that it mattered, though. We were looking for an escape from the growing avalanche of quite often depressing news and a trip into the woods away from Facebook feeds and news reports, with or without snow, was all we needed. So when I stumbled across a last minute yurt cancellation at Pinery, I didn’t think twice and booked it.
I love snow. I love it when it falls softly, inaudibly, in large cottony blobs and blankets the whole world. I love how the world slows down almost to a halt, spellbound, as if trapped in a giant snow globe. I love how it muffles all sounds, softens sharp edges and turns even the ugliest urban landscapes into works of art. I love how the snow cover sparkles and squeaks under my feet on a crisp sunny day. I love to walk through a fresh layer of snow, testing its depth, drowning in its soft whiteness.
When I was growing up in the Soviet Union, New Year’s celebration was a big deal. Christmas, like all religious holidays, was if not prohibited then strongly discouraged and was only celebrated quietly, behind closed doors. That put all the spotlight on New Year’s. Christmas tree was known as New Year tree, presents were delivered by Father Frost on New Year’s night, and all big gatherings were on December 31st. Most of the day was spent cooking and preparing for a big feast, which usually featured way more food than anyone could consume, mainly because all the feasts of my childhood were like that, but also because of the belief that New Year’s celebration set the tone for the whole year so lots of food on that night meant abundance throughout the year. Sometime before midnight, we would sit down to a table laden with food waiting for the big Kremlin clock to announce the arrival of a new year, nurturing that deepest wish which had to be whispered at the exact moment the clock struck 12. What followed was a night of eating, drinking and TV watching. Staying up all night was like a badge of honour, and on our first day back to school we would brag about who managed to “survive” the longest.
When we moved to Canada, we kept those traditions going for a few years but without all the hoopla around it got old pretty fast. So we decided to create our own traditions, and headed into the woods, of course. Continue reading