Pandemic needn’t be winter of discontent
We could also be within the first few days of autumn, however many Winnipeggers are nonetheless desperately attempting to carry on to summer season.
This clinginess is smart even in regular occasions — I don’t must inform you what’s coming, you reside right here — however there’s a definite “buckle up” vibe this yr because of the pandemic.
We’re staring down the barrel of six months, give or take, of no barbecues, no patios, no distanced gatherings at seashores and parks. The typical escape hatches that make this season bearable for individuals who can afford them — the Mexican holidays, the condos in Palm Springs — aren’t obtainable this yr.
Hey, bear in mind the flu? How about seasonal affective dysfunction? These aren’t going wherever, both.
However as a substitute of fascinated about how we should squeeze the final sunkissed drops out of summer season, we should always begin fascinated about tips on how to maximize winter.
A recent piece in Bloomberg’s CityLab highlighted methods cities in the US may embrace (and presumably even take pleasure in) a COVID-19 winter, highlighting Edmonton’s glorious WinterCity initiative for inspiration, in addition to an American program involving three cities referred to as Wintermission, which goals to scale back the social isolation that may be caused by hibernation season.
Winnipeg wasn’t talked about, although it definitely ought to have been: over the previous a number of years, Winnipeg has leaned into its designation as a winter metropolis. Pageant du Voyageur — the annual 10-day winter pageant whose tagline is now “we don’t hibernate, we have fun” — has develop into a scorching nighttime vacation spot, with folks lining up for hours in February temperatures to watch bands, sip on Caribou, and stomach as much as the ice bar.
For seven years, RAW: almond arrange a pop-up fine-dining expertise on the frozen rivers in late January, an only-in-Winnipeg occasion that drew worldwide consideration. The Forks’ 10-kilometre skating/strolling path and the Instagram-friendly warming huts that populate it, fats bikes and outside saunas, skate-dance events, the invention of crokicurl (curling meets crokinole) — all this stuff have inspired folks to get outdoors.
All of this stuff will, to borrow the phrase of 2020, “look very totally different this yr.” However their existence and recognition speaks to our creativity and ingenuity. Now we have, as a metropolis, discovered distinctive, ingenious methods to make hanging out outdoors in the dead of night, deep-freeze of winter not solely tolerable however pleasurable, which places Winnipeg in a novel place to make the most effective of a COVID-19 winter.
We have already got what many cities don’t, which is cultural buy-in; the concept of spending time outdoors in -20 C isn’t an unique idea. Actually, it’s a badge of honour.
Getting folks outdoors can be much more essential this yr. We all know, by this level within the pandemic, that socializing outside is far safer than doing so indoors, and that gathering in indoor, poorly ventilated areas with plenty of different folks places us at elevated threat.
We all know that staying linked is necessary, and that recent air is sweet for each our bodily and psychological well being. It was true in the summertime, and it stays true in winter. Permitting patios to function effectively after the snow flies; engaged on permits for the creation of all-season areas; protecting energetic transport networks plowed; implementing accessible warming stations — these are all concepts that might encourage folks to go outdoors.
And do not forget that previous Scandinavian adage: there is no such thing as a unhealthy climate, solely unhealthy clothes.
Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist and co-host of the paper’s native tradition podcast, Bury the Lede.