Winter Bears

Read in the paper today that bears need to double their weight to survive through the winter. Lucky bears.

Don’t know if it’s true for you, but as soon as the cold winds blow, I have urges for thick gravy and cheese and potatoes – poutine! And chocolate and sausages and cakes and cookies… just seems like the cool weather is demanding that I enclose myself in layers of comforting fat and wait the winter out. Of course, my smarter mind recalls that we, unlike bears, have central heating.

I also recall that because of my MS I spend most of the warmer weather sitting about, gasping for energy like a beached carp. Not good for energy use. So if I double my weight every winter and then don’t work it off in the summer – well, the results are somewhat grotesque to contemplate.

But it IS tempting.  I do so hate Halloween with its plethora of “bite size” candies that are easy to rationalize to myself are okay to buy since I can pace myself – not recognizing that, chocolate deprived as I have been for the last many months as I’ve tried to lose weight, the mouthful of M&Ms in one of those mini bags just will NOT do it for me.

Now I have a puppy, who forces me either to walk many times a day or endlessly clean up puddles, so that’s a good thing.  I’m thinking of having him designated as a therapy puppy so that I can take him with me everywhere and find living accommodation in Halifax, a place whose apartment owners seem distinctly inhospitable to doggums. (“no pets” “cats only” Sheesh. As if the overpowering scent of soiled kitty litter in the hallways is better than the click click click of a tiny puppy’s nails as he heads outside…)

But I digress. It’s glorious fall here in Ottawa, leaves blowing about with greater or lesser ferocity, the sun gradually seeming brighter (when it appears) as the leaf cover vanishes. I can see the river clearly from my window now and the mountains loom purplish against the gloomy sky. The grass is still green, so we haven’t entered the days of November, when all life gradually seeps from the scenery, leaving us with tones of sepia and the urge for hearty soups and whole grain breads and lashings of butter and warming ingredients. But we all know it is coming.  Months and months of cold. Bitter cold. Unbelievably bitter cold.  Teeth freezing cold.

Salads just don’t seem right.

It’s a season of waiting, of preparation. The first big snowfall is always magical, mystical.  I want to play in it, taste the snowflakes on my tongue, build snowmen, throw snowballs. I want to curl up in front of my fire, sipping hot cocoa, and listen as the sounds of the street outside are muffled, made more beautiful. I want to walk outside, feeling the brightness of the white covering everything about.

But, you know, after the first three months, the joy starts to seep away in a muddle of boots and gloves and hats that have to cover the ears and heavy winter coats that cause you to sweat as soon as you step inside but which are absolutely essential outside. Winter is long hereabouts.

Ottawa is smart, and has a festival in february – Winterlude – that is famous for the canal skating, yes, but also for the heavily fatty and sugary beavertails sold at concessions on the canal. They know our bearish tendencies, and come February, hibernation sounds like a darn good plan.

So does poutine.

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