While some people have the winter blahs, my affliction is much worse. In short – I hate winter. In fact, I hate everything to do with winter, except that it is an excellent excuse to travel down south.
Which is another reason why I am in such a bad mood. I used up all but 12,000 of my Aeroplan points on my last trip and now I don’t even have enough to fly to Toronto.
Well actually, I have enough to buy a one- way ticket to Toronto. I guess I could always take the train back, but going into Toronto would only worsen my mood. I’m only slightly a bigger fan of Toronto than winter. But winter in Toronto? Yikes! Not on your life.
Getting back to my aversion to winter. I’m pretty sure it has its genesis in my earliest days living in Ottawa. I moved here with my family in 1973 when I was 12 years old.
We actually arrived in August, which is a perfect time to arrive in Ottawa. Two of the newest employees at Caravela restaurant, Yonelle and Latifa, came here from the Barbados in November.
You would think that by now they would be completely traumatized even if we are having one of the mildest winters in recent memory. But for some crazy reason they are still thrilled by the novelty of it all. Obviously, they haven’t had to spend a half an hour scraping the ice off their windshield, or been stuck waiting for a bus at 20 below.
If you ask me, they are still in the honeymoon phase. “Just wait ’til next year,” I’ve already informed them.
Anyway, getting back to my own issues about winter. Even though we arrived in Ottawa in August, and even though my dad knew I wanted to play hockey...for some reason, he missed the registration period for the Pinecrest Hockey Association and instead signed my up for the Parkwood Hills Hockey Association.
What’s the difference you ask? The Pinecrest Hockey Association plays their games indoors at the Barbara Ann Scott Arena, while the Parkwood Hills Hockey Association plays its games on an outdoor rink, or at least they did back in the winter of 1973 and 1974.
All I remember is that my feet would be so painful after the each game that I thought I was going to die. Let me explain. Back then, we didn’t have any of these fancy, schmancy skates with their zippers and velcro straps. We had good old-fashioned leather skates that were laced up the front and when you were 12 years old you usually got your dad to lace them up to make sure they were super tight.
The down side to that is that once you take them off and the blood starts returning to your felt you experience a burning sensation the likes of which can only be compared to what a failed firewalk must feel like.
Fortunately, our team that first year went 12-0 and won the championship, which sort of made all the pain worth it.
But the next year, the powers that be decided balancing out the teams by taking some of the players from our championship team and putting them on the weaker teams. Unfortunately, I was one of those players.
Oh, I forgot to mention I was a goalie which is relevant to the story because I went to the weakest team in the league. We ended up getting beat 11-0, 9-0 and 13-0.
After the third game, with tears running down my face – not from the embarrassment from giving up 33 goals in three games – but having my skates taken off, I informed my father that my playing days were over. And so I left the game of hockey at the tender age of 12.
The other sport that soured my taste of winter was skiing. My father loved downhill skiing. In fact, he loved downhill skiing so much that he sprung for a family pass at Edelweiss for several years. Unfortunately for yours truly, his love of skiing bordered on the fanatical. He would often take us up to the hill when it was 20 below and the windchill factor was -35. My dad never believed in the windchill factor.
Anyway, not surprisingly, I didn’t like skiing a whole lot when the wind is howling up the hill at 60 km/hr and it feels like -35.
I would often protest, but my dad would always shoot back with, “I paid damn good money for these passes and you’re going to bloody well ski.”
Now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure my aversion to winter might actually be a phobia. But no, that would mean it’s treatable and how I feel about winter in Canada is definitely not treatable. The symptoms can be treated well enough with an Irish Coffee, or a Single Malt Scotch, but not illness.
Oh well, I guess it could be a lot worse – at least I don’t live on Prince Edward Island.
(If you wish
to comment on this or any other View Point column please
write to Fred Sherwin at email@example.com)