Relax, it's just winter: Opinion

Two things happen around this time every year. The first is that winter comes. The second is that people seem to vociferously lose all perspective about it.

Who complains about summer? I do, internally mostly

Dave Stewart enjoying the snowy weather. (Submitted by Dave Stewart)

Two things happen around this time every year. The first is that winter comes. The second is that people seem to vociferously lose all perspective about it.

All that negative energy spent on something expected, inevitable and well, just so plain commonplace.

I know what you have against winter, and you're right.

The days are shorter, we have to shovel snow, it's cold, we're at the mercy of the weather, and so on, and so on, and so on again.

Hear that? That's the discordant chorus of winter-hate that begins with the first snowfall and continues for the next five months.

For those of us who are just trying to get along and enjoy whichever aspects of the season we can, it's enough to break us.

See, the first snowfall is far too early to begin the winter of your discontent.

Maybe starting mid-February would be more apropos? Winter truly is too long here in Atlantic Canada, so when complaining about something that no one can do anything about, it's best to dole that stuff out sparingly.

Yes, I complain about summer

It's what I try to do about my summertime complaining.

Who complains about summer? I do, internally mostly.

I like summer. Of course I do. The opportunity to run around in shorts and T-shirt, to have plans relatively unhindered by weather, to be more spontaneous, is absolutely great.

The summertime beauty of Prince Edward Island can't be overstated, and the longer days are glorious.

'Me looking dumb in a hat,' Stewart says of this photo. (Submitted by Dave Stewart)

But I also find the heat of summer stifling and energy-draining. I have both a medical condition and a skin type that make direct exposure to sun a nightmare.

Also, I'm bald, and wearing a hat to protect myself from all that UV would be the same thing as dressing a dog in some weird holiday costume. Doing it for any extended period of time is just wrong. In short, of all the things my face may have been made for, wearing a hat was not one of them.

Bugs and ugly feet

Mosquitoes are absolutely enamoured of me, and I'd be more than happy to share my blood with them, if it weren't for the fact that two days after bites I develop welts that are exasperatingly itchy.

Not just one, mind you, but a connect-the-dots pattern across my entire body, head to toe.

Vinegary, gnarly feet shoved into flip-flops that are too small, their toenails curved over the front like thick, dirty talons, slapping and clicking down the hallways of our summer.— Dave Stewart 

And speaking of bugs, the weekly experience of being swarmed and bitten by those little black flies while mowing the lawn is not exactly life affirming.

Then there's the vying for parking with street-side patios when spaces are at a premium, and the influx of tourists who are both welcome and an essential part of our economy.

It always makes me wonder, though, just what the number is before we reach maximum capacity.

But I've saved the best for last. It's the fact that we have to look at feet. All. Summer. Long. Ugly, ugly feet.

Vinegary, gnarly feet shoved into flip-flops that are too small, their toenails curved over the front like thick, dirty talons, slapping and clicking down the hallways of our summer.

I write all this not to bemoan summer — that would be tantamount to sacrilege — but to illustrate that every season has its ups and downs.

Winter is beautiful too

And, I firmly believe, winter has its share of ups if you let it.

It's a beautiful season too. I know it gets ugly when the snow becomes dirty and piled up in box store parking lots, but when it's fresh and white, when it's clinging to the pine trees, it's a wonder.

Despite the fact that I'm a proud "indoorsman," it's hard to beat the beauty of walking a woodland trail with the snow and the trees creating a canopy overhead. Have you done it? If not, give it a try — you'll like it.

Stewart going tubing at the Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park at Brookvale. (Submitted by Dave Stewart)

If you're the outdoorsy type, winter provides an opportunity for a number of seasonal outdoor actives like skiing, snowboarding, ice sailing, sledding, ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling (wear a helmet and obey the rules, yeah?), and skating.

Winter is the perfect time for dinner parties and get-togethers.

It's a time of flannel, fireplaces, hot chocolate, and maple taffy prepared in fresh snow.

But what I love about winter, truly, madly, deeply, is that it's a time for us, those of us who live here year round. It's a time when we can stop holding in our stomachs, let out a breath, and take in deep lungfuls of fresh, uncrowded air.

A time to rejuvenate

Time slows down and on some occasions the weather forces us to stay at home, to seek comfort and warmth, to come face to face with ourselves and not run away from what we find in the quiet.

It's a time to rejuvenate, to plan, to prepare for the next glorious summer.

But I know. For some of you, you're only planning one thing, and that's your winter getaway. And that's great too.

Stewart's cat, Kaiju, looking at snow built up in front of the door. (Submitted by Dave Stewart)

Those of us who stick it out are always happy to receive your Facebook posts of your feet (see above) propped up on a beach chair with the azure sea just beyond. And don't worry. While you're away, we'll keep the place in shape for you.

Happy winter, however you deal with it.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

More from Dave Stewart


Dave Stewart is an "ad man" at Graphcom in Charlottetown; a DIY filmmaker and musician; and contributor to The Buzz, Rue Morgue, Art Decades, Studio CX and online at He edited and contributed to the P.E.I. horror anthology Fear from a Small Place, and 26 two-minute episodes of his cartoon for The Buzz, And Yet I Blame Hollywood, were adapted on the CBC-TV show ZeD.


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