Itâ€™s mid December in St. Johnâ€™s and, praise Jezus, so far we havenâ€™t had any disastrous snowstorms. As Iâ€™m writing this blog Â 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. Theyâ€™re little beacons of hope, those blue spaces.
I havenâ€™t spent a full winter in Canada since 2012. I hate winter. I full-on fucking hate it. I donâ€™t mind the winters in other parts of Canada, where it doesnâ€™t rain and snow sideways and you can walk around town without fear of being hit by a shitty driver. But in St. Johnâ€™s? Itâ€™s a special wet kind of coldness that seeps into your bones, and as a pedestrian Iâ€™ve nearly been hit four times by drivers in the past few two weeks.
But, here I am! Fortunately, this year Iâ€™m actually working an office job so I wonâ€™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, weâ€™ve decided to put some measures in place for survival.
AND DONâ€™T TELL ME TO BUY WARMER CLOTHES. I HAVE THEM.
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.
Itâ€™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 doesnâ€™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 itâ€™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 itâ€™s dark outside, itâ€™s pretty tempting to just flop down on the couch and never move again. GUILTY.
Other than my Womanly Wednesday outings, Iâ€™ve recruited other friends to make pactsÂ 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 â€œhealthyâ€ eating routine
Iâ€™m a lazy sack of shit when Iâ€™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 Iâ€™m working at an office, because Iâ€™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 donâ€™t get lazy and slack off. Nothing beats a gym instructor yelling at you until theyâ€™re red in the face and youâ€™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 Iâ€™ve managed to develop a healthy love for soup — lots of soup! A crock pot is your best friend! So is Pinterest. Iâ€™m not even good at cooking, but sometimes I can get by.
Some of my favourite recipes:
- Crockpot Sweet Potato + Black Bean Quinoa ChiliÂ
- Spinach and Mushroom Quinoa (not suuuper filling, but good for lunch)Â
- Crock Pot Taco Soup
- Sausage Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Pasta ShellsÂ (Not carb friendly, but fuck it)
Get outdoors, you pansy
My delicate ginger disposition means I donâ€™t do well with fluctuations or extremes in temperature, whether itâ€™s hot or cold.
Fortunately over the years, Iâ€™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 friendâ€™s wedding this past summer whoâ€™s also making a mission to enjoy the winter outdoors more, so weâ€™ve plannedÂ some fun winter snowshoe outings combined with a â€œboil upâ€ — a fire, a kettle of hot tea, and likely a few grilled pieces of bologna. It doesnâ€™t matter if itâ€™s not real meat. Thatâ€™s what a good boil up is.
You donâ€™t have to go far to do this, either. La Manche is a good spot, although Iâ€™m not sure how the whole fire thing works. Iâ€™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 Iâ€™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 donâ€™t have to worry too much about dying, so thatâ€™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.