Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Green is the new white...

The number one topic on everybody's mind this winter is the wacky weather. If you live in eastern North America, I don't have to tell you about it. Normal winter activities are being postponed due to strangely mild temperatures and little or no snow. Any business depending on winter tourism is feeling the pinch, especially ski area operators.

Fortunately, a good number of people seem to have found some positive attributes to the situation: they point out such cost-saving features as the lower cost of heating, no need for snow removal, safer driving conditions and the like. Others glumly mutter about climate change or plan ski trips to the west, where there appears to be almost more snow than they can deal with.

My suggestion? Take advantage of the unusual weather. Revel in it - get outside, go hiking, biking or whatever land-based activity you prefer. Work on your garden. Play golf, even. Please don't think you should canoeing - the water is still deadly cold and, this area anyway, lakes are frozen. Satisfy the camping bug by going on a backpacking trip in Algonquin Park. Be prepared for sudden shifts in the weather.

Speaking of frozen lakes, ice conditions are very unpredictible - stay off lakes and rivers! A visitor at one of the local resorts went skiing on Oxtongue Lake a couple days ago and fell through the ice. Fortunately he ended up in shallow water, hauled himself out and was warmed up by some local fellows visiting their hunt camp. He was lucky.

Meanwhile, do a snow dance, and hope that winter returns. Or be proactive - make an offering to the snow gods! On New Year's Eve, my wife and I hosted a fun party at our house with a small group of friends. Despite the damp mild weather I got an enormous bonfire going and in a moment of inspiration, decided to sacrifice an old pair of downhill skis to Ullr. This is a time-honoured tradition in ski country and I hope it works. When it came time for fireworks, we even became more creative. The BBQ lighter I was using to ignite the various incendiary devices ran out of gas, so another member of the inspired group picked up one of the red-hot binding heelpieces (now separated from the skis) with a pitchfork and we used that to light the fireworks.

Who says we don't know how to have fun in the north country!

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