Chase away the winter blahs

There’s no need to be stuck in the house during the cold weather




SaltWire Network


Plenty of folks dread the winter months and fair enough. After all, the season can be unkind, with holiday credit card statements arriving in the mail, cold mornings spent trying to start the car and all the slippery, unsalted sidewalks. Many experts will says the trick to enjoying this time of year is to learn something new, get some fresh air or lean into the season with hobbies. But what if you’re sick of the same old thing? Here’s a list of some newish or littleknown cold month activities for indoor and outdoor-minded folks across Atlantic Canada. 1. This is the season for live theatre. August Carrigan, the communications marketing manager at the LSPU hall in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, would argue that theatre is essential to getting through the winter. Theatre lovers on P.E.I. and in Nova Scotia won’t hunger for options, either, as opportunities abound in those provinces, as well. Check with local live theatre companies for an idea of what's on tap in your area this winter. 2. Boil-Up A boil-up is a phrase and activity born in Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s essentially an outdoor picnic in the woods or beach. Bring some wood, matches, warm boots and all the tools you need to boil up a cup of coffee or tea. You can get fancy with the food, but a sleeve of crackers will do the trick, too. The most important part? The frosty fresh air and the smell of the fire. 3. Get involved with citizen science Citizen science refers to scientific research and data gathered by the public. There is a slew of ways to get involved in Atlantic Canada. On P.E.I., piping plovers appear in March and people can sign up and receive training to be a plover monitor. The Great Backyard Bird Count happens across the globe in mid-February. Other starting points for folks looking to get involved? Naturalist is a great resource or contact the nature conservation groups in your area. 4. Back-country cross-country skiing It’s slightly hard to define back-country cross-country skiing. For some folks, it might mean a deep and distant multi-day trek into the mountains; for others, it may just mean traversing through slightly out-ofbounds fields in flatter parts of Atlantic Canada. Regardless, Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland has pretty much every landscape a backcountry cross-country skier could desire, including wide alpine bowls, treeless highlands, several backcountry huts and mountains that border the ocean. Depending on the conditions where decide to enjoy this activity, you’ll want to plan your route, pack the right gear and be sure to follow any recommended safety precautions. 5. Telemark Skiing There's only one possible location to experience Telemark skiing in the Atlantic Canadian provinces, but what a spot. Ski Tuonela on the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton offers the following amenities: a telemark hill with a 1,400-foot run, 18 kilometres of cross-country trail, rentals, chalet accommodations and a wood-fired sauna. It’s a unique experience. 6. Pickleball One of the world's fastest-growing sports, pickleball combines the elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong. Leonard Lye, president of Pickleball Newfoundland and Labrador, says it’s an excellent sport for young and old. “It’s just very inclusive, social, and addictive. It’s something that folks of all ages and genders can play together and have a great time. Our oldest member is 87, and many of our best players are between their mid-60s and mid-70s. Lye noted there are pickleball associations in every province. “You can check out the Pickleball Canada website for each province’s and club’s website and contact information. Many community centres and organizations like the YMCA also offer pickleball for their members.” 7. Wine-Tasting If you’re into wine, there are plenty of ways to get involved. There’s the 2024 Nova Scotia Ice Wine Festival in Wolfville in February. Eileanan Breagha vineyards in Cape Breton offers a wine club, and Tasting NL has a host of planned events. The P.E.I. Festival of Wines is returning with wine tastings, culinary pairings and exclusive wine boutique shopping. Wine stores are a great resource too — the staff at a store like Bishop’s Cellar in Halifax can teach you, open bottles and answer any questions you might have. Finally, there’s a slew of online tutorials offered through YouTube — the videos hosted by Sommelier Andre Mack are especially significant. 8. Why not give winter foraging a try or spend this time studying for foraging in the spring? Anne Gallant of Millville, P.E.I., is the foraging lady of P.E.I. Gallant first developed an interest in free food and foraged medicine more than 12 years ago. But a move to central P.E.I. is when her interest really took off. “I started sharing photos and recipes. Eventually, I began teaching. I’ve been at that for two years now.” In winter, she leaves the highbush cranberries for the birds and instead focuses on foraging and making teas from the conifer trees. “I love making tea from the eastern white pine. I boil it for five minutes, adding some honey and sometimes lemon juice. Another favourite is usnea tea made from old man’s beard, and I’ll take a small shot of that every day because it’s anti-viral and quite potent. Anytime I feel a cold coming, I reach for these two favourites.” Although Gallant doesn’t teach in the winter, she said it’s the perfect time for folks to study. “This is the time of year to trek to the library, study and watch videos about foraging and free food.” Follow Anne’s adventures on her Facebook page, ForageladyPEI.*