49: One step, two step.

- November 5, 2017 -

Anyone who has ever lived through a Saskatchewan winter can readily attest to the astonishment with which our tales of its -40°C climate are met. In reality, though, it isn’t nearly so bad as the stories might make it seem.

Yes, temperatures do often dip that low over the course of this five- or six- month season, and, yes, there is almost always a great deal of snow on the ground. But, really, you don’t notice it so much. You’re only ever outside for brief stretches of time (the front door to the garage, the parking lot to the building..), and you can be certain that, once indoors, anywhere you go will be heated to near-summer temperatures. It’s more of a momentary inconvenience than anything else, this winter weather, and it ceases to be much of a bother once you’ve gotten used to it.

In practical terms, the biggest change has to do with the slipperiness of the sidewalks and roads. There’s a very deliberate sort of step with which you must walk during these winter months, taking great care to accommodate for conditions so unwelcoming of mobility. No longer can you walk with the long, confident strides or firm-footed movements which have gotten you from point A to point B during the snowless seasons. Now, you must walk with a very delicate, almost dance-like motion, taking two or three half-steps in lieu of each stride.

(And, what’s more, you have to be very intentional about the direction in which you’re moving, looking down at the ground as you go along so as to avoid any particularly pernicious patches of ice.)

I don’t mind it so much, though, this one step, two step way of getting around. It requires a degree of focus, of deliberation not typically assigned to such a simple task, and maybe this is why I’m more fascinated than frustrated by the change. I’ve been finding, for instance, that investing this extra care into something so intuitive has me doing the same in other areas of my life, too, that the heightened awareness and precision of movement now required of walking has me re-thinking the ways in which I more broadly move through my day.

Maybe, then, this is just another one of the gifts of the winter season. Maybe its harsh conditions are a benefit, not a burden, requiring us, as they do, to be more considerate, more conscientious about how we approach even the most basic of tasks, and to recognize the ways in which we may have unintentionally become too accustomed to haste.


Waving from my desk,
– J


This piece comes from Jana Marie’s newsletter, The Sunday Letters. You can sign up to receive future editions below.