There’s a joke (a bad one) I often tell when people talk about winter sports. However I tell it, it comes down to this: “the only winter sport I play is football.”
It makes some people laugh — the dissonance of thinking of football as a winter sport makes some people chuckle — but mostly people just roll their eyes. I don’t blame them.
I didn’t grow up with winter sports. My first introduction to team sports were on childhood soccer and baseball teams, and from there, I went on to football and watersports. Once the snow came out, my physical activity (if any) consisted of running on the treadmill, and the occasional pickup dodgeball and basketball game in a nice, heated gym. As a teenager, my friends and I would take weekend trips up north to go skiing; while the rest of them hit the slopes, I would stay in the chalet, saying hi to strangers, and standing behind the barbecue so my friends would have lunch ready when they returned.
There are some who tell me that I’m a bad Canadian because I don’t know how to skate or ski, or because I don’t have much interest in hockey. I tell them that my interest in tourtière and social policy makes up for it.
Over the past few years, I have been learning, slowly, to love the winter. A love for the cold season comes with time, I think, and with a good investment in toques, scarves, and gloves.
These days, I am enthusiastic about a snowfall, looking at it as an excuse to make snow angels and go sledding. We have been inundated with snow this season, and I have spent hours outside our house, shoveling our lanes and sidewalks—it is not a chore, but instead therapeutic.
A few weekends ago, L and I went snowshoeing at a winery in Niagara. It was a mostly leisurely stroll through the vineyard on the Beamsville Bench, marked with stops to enjoy food and drink along the way. It was, of course, my first time snowshoeing.
I loved it.
I left the vineyard with a desire to buy snowshoes, to strap them on while in the city and explore parts of the Don Valley Trail or traipse through High Park. I am excited by the prospect of putting on the shoes and floating above the snow, again, soon.
Our tastes change with age. We get older, and we start noticing new things, developing new interests. I had no interest in the winter as a child, or through my youth. Now, I am excited to explore what the cold, the ice, the snow have in store.
I don’t play football anymore, so my “winter sports” joke doesn’t work. Instead, maybe I’ll take advantage of my recent interest in winter to take up skiing, or curling, or maybe make a snowman or two. There are so many new things to learn, to do, now that I don’t feel like I need to hide in my house once the cold emerges.
Tonight, I’ll start by learning how to put on a pair of skates. And maybe even stay upright with them on.
A new winter sport for me; wish me luck.