Wednesday, 25 February 2015


Having 'Fun' In The Cold

Pine Tree Press | Winter Special

Jack Frost uses Lolli's window to make an icy masterpiece
Winter can be terrible; the cold, the ice, the lack of sun, the potential for frostbitten toes!
But, the brave souls of the PUTP take on the challenges of winter (and the potential for frostbitten toes) to do the things one can only do in the bitter cold. This self induced hardship seems to be ingrained into the PUTP culture - very similar to the influential Canadian culture.

If you are not from a northern country, where snow covers the ground (as well as small trees, cars, igloos, people under the height of 1.5 metres, cats, purse pooches, etc) for months at a time, you may be wondering what activities can be done in the snow?
Scooters and skateboards are out. Bicycles are use at your own risk, that is assuming you can dig them out of the shed. Lawn darts just get lost. The pool is converted into a makeshift hockey rink. Gardening leads to flying ice pieces and broken shovels. Even a simple after dinner stroll around the block turns into a complicated affair with three layers of clothing required and constant rerouting according to snow drifts and snow plowing schedules. Not to mention a basic umbrella stroller would not make it five feet, so a cross country, big wheeled, monster truck of the stroller world is required...and in the deepest depth of winter, even the monster stroller will not cut it and a sled is the only way to move your precious baby around.

I wanna be warm!

Ice Skating - One winter activity, which many consider a form of self abuse, is ice skating. What other culture thinks it is fun to strap sharp metal knives on the bottom of an uncomfortable hard shoe and try to move on the slipperiest surface known to man? 
Sources have reported seeing the citizens of the PUTP skating on many occasions and at many different locations this winter. Poor little Oskie, who has just turned 2, was put on the ice this year. After countless attempts he, apparently, reached some successful milestone by being able to stand still long enough for his parents to get a photo. The rest of the hour or two he spent 'skating' was mostly him rolling, crawling, or being held up by another skater.
And, to make matters worse, the bragworthy skating event, is doing it outside. Being inside a semi-heated arena was, apparently, not torture enough! Throw in -20 (and windchill) to make those plastic (non insulated) skates feel like you are wearing blocks of ice. One youngster took it even further by removing his coat and skating in only a thin shirt!
One psychologist reported that behaviour like this is, for lack of a better word, kooky!

Inside the 'warm' arena (remember, the temperature need to stay cool or the ice will get 'soft') is apparently a good way to start the season. Like easing yourself into a cold lake on a summers day.

All smiles. Ready to skate.

Skating is for all ages.

Oskies first time on skates (age 1.9 years...under 2)

Apparently, dangerous activities like skating are how boys and their fathers bond.

It is typical to wear ties when skating.

The lack of safety equipment is appalling. Knee pads, elbow pads...gloves?

The practice is so engrained in the children they even role play skating through their toys!

Apparently a joke. Spending time in the penalty box is seen as cute and funny.

The highlight of the season is skating outside. According to ice experts, the colder the better as it makes the ice is harder and therefore faster.  The already dangerous activity is made ever more reckless!

Here is one brother initiating another in the world of skating.

A milestone! Standing on skates. He weeps with joy.

In an attempt to outdo all other winter skaters, this young man took his coat off and skated as fast as he could. What kind of social pressure makes a sane person do this?

Tobogganing - This activity is also known as 'sledding' outside of Canada and the PUTP. Sleds are a very useful method of transporting goods and people over snow covered lands. Using them to slide, out of control, at insane speeds, down ice and snow covered hills (without helmets or jocks!) is crazy! But, apparently not to the citizens of the PUTP. They add another level of 'fun' by racing down against other sledders. Pushing the sleds to their limits of speed and controllability...crashes are common. Snow flies and so do tears (mostly due to lost races). This kind of behaviour is encouraged and exposed to the youngest citizens, such as little Oskie. Sometimes it is hard to tell if the screams of laughter are actual laughing or screams of terror masked as laughing due to the social pressure put on children to enjoy this experience?
Another irrational event than any logical person would avoid doing.

The 'best' hills are unsheltered and typically very windy. A potential hypothermia risk.

Races like this lead to crashes!

Playing in the Snow - The equivalent activity in the summer is to play outside, however, instead of water, dirt, and bugs, the wintertime provides ice, snow, and weather so cold you can see your breath and pretend you are smoking.
When the youngsters of the PUTP are thrown out into the backyard to entertain themselves they often find their world shrunk down. Mostly due to the lack of movement b/c of the deep snow. With snow up to their waists, moving anywhere is very hard work. In some cases it is impossible. They are left with the following options: dig or throw snow. Again, common sense seems to be missing. Why expose children to uncomfortable, even dangerous, temperatures so they can stand around throwing snow in the air?
As a side note I do not see the little Osk man anywhere in the pictures. Was the snow over his head? Was he buried or digging unstable tunnels under the snow?

Two children trapped in the snow

An apparent highlight of outdoor play - the straight up snow toss.
Hockey - First off, the already proven 'kooky' activity of ice skating, now paired with sticks and competition is none other than a surefire recipe for injury! On top of that, this activity has a huge monetary and time consuming cost associated with it. The ultimate example of this happened last weekend - The citizens of the PUTP were up bright and early Sunday morning at 5:30 am! There was a hockey practice at 7. What rational minded person gets their entire family up hours before they would naturally wake up, on the one day in the week that they could sleep in, to head out into the freezing cold to sit in an equally cold arena (Centre 70) to watch their kid fall down, run into other off balance children, and possibly get hurt?
Then, on this particular Sunday, only a few hours after getting home from this frigid hockey practice, they packed up the family again and headed out to a Kingston Frontenacs hockey game. Elliott had the opportunity to play a small game with his hockey team during the intermission of the game. The citizens packed up the equipment, drove downtown, paid for parking, paid for tickets into the game, dressed Elliott, undressed him, missed part of the game....all for a 5 minute hockey game on the big ice. I will not repeat the possibility of injury again, since we've established this already.
What I will ask is, what rational/logical minded adult would approve of this idea?

As with the other winter activities, the ultimate form of this sport is to play it outside (and again, the colder the better). After hearing about this, I'm surprised the citizens of the PUTP still have all of their toes, fingers, and ears.

Cave men used similar looking sticks as weapons.

The best days to play are bright and sunny, which paradoxically mean the coldest days of the winter.

Summary: the cold weather seems to have turned the citizens of the PUTP crazy! Over and over again, irrational decisions are being made, children put into danger, and fingers put at risk of frostbite...all in the name of 'fun'. Perhaps the geese have it right and migrating south is a good idea.

Kingston | 15:55

1 comment:

  1. No way, the geese do not have it right...winter is awesome!!! And it looks like you guys have been enjoying it. I have to admit this winter has proven a little difficult to really enjoy the outdoor activities because it has been so cold, but it's winter and we are Canadian, it is our duty to get out there and enjoy it :)