I’m pretty awful when it comes to ice skating. Growing up it was a completely vague concept that only presented itself in magical Christmas movies set in North America. This isn’t your average South African’s favourite hobby like it is for Canadians.
But each year I set aside my fear of breaking my ankle and put on my pair of trusty skates. There is always a good year in between these sessions so I feel like I am not getting anywhere when it comes to improving, but I do it anyway. Because really, ice skating at the Forks is one of my favourite winter activities in Manitoba (where downhill skiing is pretty limited).
We’ve also been out a few times on Lake Winnipeg which is an incredible experience but usually short-lived because of the extreme temperatures and rough surface.
Skating at The Forks is perfect because they have lovely groomed trails and warming huts to keep you snug along the way. And you definitely want a warming hut when you’re ice skating along one of the longest skating trails in the world.
This past weekend, one of my Canadian colleagues and I decided to introduce a fellow expat to the ice. It was pretty much exactly a year since I had last wobbled around pretending to what I was doing. We decided to rent our skates because it was a bit of a spur of the moment decision and they are super cheap at only $5.
After lacing up, we started out on the smaller rink to get a feel for things. I was just as awful as I remembered but willing to give it a go with the hopes that I might improve as the evening went on. After getting our legs we moved off the rink and onto the trails that run all around The Forks.
Around us the lights were starting to twinkle on in the trees, and along the river and the air was heavy with the sweet smell of wood smoke from one of the warming hut’s fires.
I really struggle during winter in Manitoba. It’s not so much the cold but the dark that drives me bonkers. Our days are so short that after growing up with what seems like permanent sunshine it has taken lot for me to get even close to being comfortable with this. I also miss sleeping with my bed room window open and fresh air in general. Along with taking copious amounts of vitamin D and other survival strategies, I find what works best for me is to just get outdoors as much as possible.
This winter has been considerably warmer than last year but consequently a lot greyer, slushier and muddier. Spending the evening gliding around the ice skating trails at The Forks while the sun turned the snow pink has given me the boost I need to push through the last few months of cold.
What’s your winter therapy? Are you more of an indoors or outdoors person when it comes to the colder months?