In my part of the world, winter means five months of frozen ground, almost no sunlight, no growth, no green, nothing to eat from the yard. It's tough for the gardeners to bear in good humor. So I generally don't and just get grouchier by the month, until by March, I can't look outside without grumbling, "It is not really snowing again, is it?"
Winter is a lot like aging. It happens, it has its downsides, but there's really nothing you can do about it. And if you try to resist it, you can waste almost half of your life in ill feeling.
So this year, a few months shy of my 50th birthday, I have decided to stop complaining about vast swaths of the calendar and just embrace the inevitable. I've been running and snowshoeing outdoors in all weather. And experiencing even a little weak sunlight really does make me cheerier, even with no gardening on the horizon.
But if you REALLY want to learn how to make the best of winter, you could do worse things than travel to Quebec, where the French Canadians do winter with brio. That's where I've been for the last week.
Here are photos from the ultimate in stylish wintering: the Hotel de Glace or ice hotel where my family and I spent a frigid, expensive, but fairly amazing night. The barefoot run over frozen snow to the outdoor hottub will not soon be forgotten. Neither will the clothes frozen stiff in our bags.
More frozen insanity. The ice carvers, a pair of young guys exercising their creativity all over this ice building, were incredibly nice to my kids, answering at least half an hour of questions.
You cannot throw a stick in Quebec without hitting a skier, a dog-sledder, a snowshoer, an iceskater, or a tobogganer. And this willingness to leave the hearth in favor of vigorous exercise in frozen temperatures seems not to end in youth, either. There were 80 year-olds on the ski slopes at Mont-Sainte-Anne.
As my ski instructor there–the lovely, blue-eyed, 58 year-old Suzi–said, "Winter is hard, but it is LIFE."