Posted: 2020-12-07 13:17:09 By: thebay

Is anyone else counting down the days until this abysmal year is over? I don’t know what I expect will happen in 2021, but I’m going with equal parts blind faith and denial. When things get tough, I bury my head in the sand and watch bad TV. Frankly, I do the latter a lot anyway. I watched a movie last night which was narrated by a dog, who befriends a cougar. Sometimes I even watch the aquarium channel. Don’t judge me, it’s very soothing. O.K., the dog movie was a bit silly.

Grant Nickalls, Hunters Bay Radio’s inimitable Muskoka Morning show host and my resident mood lifter, admitted on-air the other day that he rather likes winter. I don’t mind it all that much either. As a Western New Yorker, I learned to embrace the harsh winters from an early age. Bundle up, suck it up, and get out there. I used to ski a lot, and I skated outdoors, which is much more fun than indoors. After the first appreciable snow, I settle in like a marathon runner and try to pace myself. The first few weeks leading up to the winter solstice are a bit challenging, but then I usually find my stride. I used to look forward to a couple of weeks in a warmer climate, but Shauna and I have not flown anywhere warm since we were married. We don’t miss the air travel. Likely, there are some grumpy Canadian snowbirds who expected to spend this winter down south, but that ship has sailed. I don’t suspect the borders will open anytime soon, and given the out of control (and completely preventable) spread of the coronavirus down there, I wouldn’t want to take that gamble even if they did re-open. I say embrace your Canadian roots and ride this one out.

The other day, I re-posted a cell phone video I took at nearby Arrowhead Park a few years ago. In it, I skated around the long skating trail that winds through the woods. I posted the video to remind myself and others that there is plenty about Canadian winters to love. Now that I will soon be able to walk without a cane, I fully intend to indulge in some of those activities again. I really enjoy walks on our frozen lake (when it is safe to do so), but last year, I only ventured out once. The ice was a little unpredictable due to all the temperature fluctuations. When the opportunity presents itself, I hope to be out there hiking a bit on my new and improved hip.

With the pandemic, and all the bad news about lockdowns and warnings to avoid gatherings for the holidays, I know it’s a challenge to stay positive. Even without the latest troubles, I historically struggle to keep my spirits up when the days grow shorter. That said, I try not to be alone with my thoughts for too long, and there is plenty to distract me. I have my soulmate Shauna (and puppy Sydney) to keep me smiling, and I’m using social media and the phone to connect with friends and family. I try to keep my messages positive. Someone sent me a video the other day, and it offered a little perspective about the adversity we currently face. Basically, it pointed out all the adversity someone born in 1900 faced. Perspective and attitude are of course the keys. Right now, I spend a lot of time writing, preparing food, and working on the two music shows I produce for Hunters Bay Radio. I also find that I feel better when I help someone else. My morning ritual is to take a shot of apple cider vinegar and proclaim to myself “Today, do more good than harm”. At the starting gate for this year’s winter marathon, I remain hopeful that mankind will miraculously emerge from this troubling time, a little stronger and more empathetic than before. In the meantime, the lake is beginning to freeze up, and Shauna just baked me some killer cheese muffins. Life is good.

Written by Jamie Oppenheimer ©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED