How to survive a St. John's winter

How to survive a St. John’s winter

It’s mid December in St. John’s and, praise Jezus, so far we haven’t had any disastrous snowstorms. As I’m writing this blog  from my warm seat on the living room couch, I can see snow swirling outside but still a few cracks of blue sky breaking through all that grey. They’re little beacons of hope, those blue spaces.

I haven’t spent a full winter in Canada since 2012. I hate winter. I full-on fucking hate it. I don’t mind the winters in other parts of Canada, where it doesn’t rain and snow sideways and you can walk around town without fear of being hit by a shitty driver. But in St. John’s? It’s a special wet kind of coldness that seeps into your bones, and as a pedestrian I’ve nearly been hit four times by drivers in the past few two weeks.

But, here I am! Fortunately, this year I’m actually working an office job so I won’t be tempted to spend all my time indoors hiding from the world. After talking with several friends about winter depression and the struggles of living here during these long, cold months, we’ve decided to put some measures in place for survival.


Treating yourself like a classy missus/mister sometimes

Me and my friend Leila have this bi-weekly tradition called Womanly Wednesday (we like alliteration) where we head out to a restaurant after work, buy a bottle of wine, eat lots of warm comfort food, and catch up on the latest gossip.

It’s one of the most oddly therapeutic things in my life, and I look forward to it every other week. Our favourite so far has been Adelaide — a fair-priced bottle of red Tempranillo, fish tacos, and a platter of oysters tends to set off those happy hormones. If one bottle doesn’t cut it, we take to the bar at The Merchant Tavern where I flirt with the bartenders and request worldly cocktails that aren’t on the menu.

We try to mix it up, though. I figure it’s our way of paying homage to downtown businesses as well. Things die down a little during those cold months.

Forcing your lazy friends to spend time with you

When you come home from work and it’s dark outside, it’s pretty tempting to just flop down on the couch and never move again. GUILTY.

Other than my Womanly Wednesday outings, I’ve recruited other friends to make pacts about staying interested in things other than wallowing in self pity and moping around the house under three layers of fleece.

Me and my friend Katie, for example, have agreed to have at-home supper parties every now and then, and to make more of an effort to attend art shows and theatrical performances (easy for us, since we both work in the arts).

Keeping up a fitness and “healthy” eating routine

I’m a lazy sack of shit when I’m not determined to lose weight. Thankfully, I have Jamaica to look forward to in the spring, and I want my abs back.

I find it easier to make myself go to the gym now that I’m working at an office, because I’m already out of the house and my gym is on the way home from work.

I make sure to attend every class I can, so that I don’t get lazy and slack off. Nothing beats a gym instructor yelling at you until they’re red in the face and you’re puking all over the yoga mat.

This includes eating healthy, too. All I want to do is eat warm unhealthy foods, like pizza, and tacos, and nachos, and Chinese take-out from the sketchy spot around the corner from me. But I’ve managed to develop a healthy love for soup — lots of soup! A crock pot is your best friend! So is Pinterest. I’m not even good at cooking, but sometimes I can get by.

Some of my favourite recipes:

Get outdoors, you pansy

My delicate ginger disposition means I don’t do well with fluctuations or extremes in temperature, whether it’s hot or cold.

Fortunately over the years, I’ve amassed a collection of ultra warm winter gear, and a few other fun things…like snowshoes! The fancy, sporty kind.

I met a photographer at my friend’s wedding this past summer who’s also making a mission to enjoy the winter outdoors more, so we’ve planned some fun winter snowshoe outings combined with a “boil up” — a fire, a kettle of hot tea, and likely a few grilled pieces of bologna. It doesn’t matter if it’s not real meat. That’s what a good boil up is.

You don’t have to go far to do this, either. La Manche is a good spot, although I’m not sure how the whole fire thing works. I’ll let you know.

There’s also The Loop at Bannerman Park — a circular skating rink that rarely seems open. But when it is…(I don’t know how to finish that thought.)

My other friend, Matt, thinks I’m full of money and told me to go out and buy some cross-country skis. LOL! BUT I can rent them, from The Outfitters (along with snowshoe rentals). Cross-country skiing is the kind of skiing where I don’t have to worry too much about dying, so that’s a bonus for me. They also have a Nordic Ski club.

Otherwise, Pippy Park has some incredible trails in the middle of the city. My favourite, personally, is the night ski. Nothing like that crisp, cold air under a blanket of stars.

How do you get through? I welcome all suggestions, especially alcohol related.

  • December 11 2016

    Cleveland is winter like St. John’s except Lake Erie and no blue sky or pretty things to look at. No Petty Harbour on a snowy day, just warehouses. Vitamin D by the handful helps. Last winter was 23 straight days of overcast. It does mess the mind.

    • December 20 2016

      That’s the hardest part — all the greyness :(

  • December 12 2016

    And if it’s too cold or gross for the Loop, you can always take your skates for a few laps at Mile One. :) Good way to get a glisten on the go. $5 for 90min.
    Melissa recently posted…How to Spend 4 Days in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

    • December 20 2016

      Can you rent skates there?

  • December 12 2016

    Haha I like the sound of a boil up. Reminds me of billy tea in Australia. I don’t know how you Canadians do get through your winters, I’ve only lived through extraordinarily mild English ones. I was always excited about all the hot alcholic drinks, especially if consumed by a roaring fire, in a snug little pub. Ah… I miss the mother country. My comment as it turns out, has little relevance to your original post but I’ll still leave it right here.
    LC recently posted…Trekking on Horseback to Son Kol Lake, Kyrgyzstan

    • December 20 2016

      Lol! I don’t mind the cold as much as the dreariness, honestly. The soggy, slushy, awfulness really gets to me.

      What’s a billy tea?!

  • December 12 2016

    I agree that St. John’s winters are unequivocally the worst. That’s why I live on the West Coast where winter is white and the skies are blue. Also because it’s not raining sideways here, those warm clothes will actually keep you warm while you actually ENJOY being outside. The one caveat….it snows every day so unless you want to break your back shovelling you need a snow blower or a neighbour who will take pity on you.

    • December 20 2016

      I do miss that about the west coast! And at least you have some good skiing out that way. Not that I ski.

  • December 12 2016

    hahahaha great post! Just recently found your blog and I like your humorous and to-the-point writing style. Good luck making it through the winter! And a trip to Jamaica is a great thing to look forward to on those cold winter days :) Looking forward to reading more of your blog!!
    Alissa recently posted…The Incomplete Guide To Salsa Dancing In Mexico

    • December 20 2016

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Alissa! :)

  • December 12 2016

    This is the first winter I’ll be spending outside Canada (in Ireland). It’s kinda weird not to see snow and it’s funny to read newspaper headlines like “temperatures plunge to near freezing,” but knowing what people in St. John’s and elsewhere in Canada (my friend texted me a -30C screenshot from Edmonton earlier this week) I won’t complain. I’ll take a couple of mild winters, and if I really want snow there’s mountains and flights to Switzerland and other snowy places.

    I do think I’ll be making that sweet potato and quinoa chili slowcooker recipe, because it sounds delicious and I bought a bunch of sweet potatoes and don’t know what to do with them.

    • December 20 2016

      Hahahaha yay! Berlin temperatures were pretty mild too, although it did get to about minus 20 at some points…

  • December 13 2016

    Aww I made a cameo on the blog! Supper one night soon :) xo

    • December 20 2016

      LOL, yes please!

  • December 13 2016

    Tacos are unhealthy? I can no longer believe anything you write, Ms. Walsh.
    Heidi recently posted…A Holiday Shopping Extravaganza in Ouray, Colorado

    • December 20 2016

      We don’t do them proper Mexican ones here

  • January 04 2017

    Lovveee it! I’m guilty of all of these things… Do you have any more good soup recipes?

    • January 09 2017

      I actually think I’ll do a blog post about this! Hahaha

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.