The birth of spring was never as welcome as it is this year. After a cruel, long winter of record snowfalls and storm after storm, many are weary of the winter weather.
Some of us were fortunate to travel away from the cold and enjoy more temperate climates for a few weeks or even months. Travel becomes more appealing as one gets older − and colder − with each passing winter.
While in Portugal this winter, I couldn’t help but notice the numbers of Canadians who escaped the winter blahs for sun, comfortable temperatures and affordable accommodations.
On a three-day bus trip to Morocco and Spain, my 40 companions were all Canadian, picked up at various locations throughout a district known as the Algarve in Portugal. This was not a planned all-Canadian tour; it just worked out that way.
My fellow Canadians and I talked about the need to be under a warm sun and away from blistery cold weather and how it helped our physical and psychological well being. We walked more, were outside more, laughed more and generally felt healthier than if we were home, holed up in our offices or houses.
Some of my travel companions sold their homes in Florida and Texas, opting instead for European destinations and affordable travel to a variety of locations. Florida to them had become too expensive, too Trumpish, too commercial.
It seems as though there is a renaissance happening – increasing numbers of Canadians travelling abroad in search of a healthy winter that allows them outdoor activities that may not include lying on a beach.
As we talked about this shift in travel, I couldn’t help but wonder how others back home were faring under the blasts of storm after storm. I started thinking about ways to bring the outdoors indoors in my hometown for those long winter months.
Why can’t we build an indoor park that has walkways, greenery, water features and a couple of cafes to imitate the “feeling” of spring or summer?
We can build and fund tennis bubbles, soccer bubbles, and other large sporting projects, so why can’t we be leaders in the north, and build an indoor park for all of our citizens?
This park would allow citizens, especially our senior population to have a place to go, to walk in comfort, to be surrounded by nature and to stop for a coffee, tea or lunch after spending some time in the garden?
Why can’t we enlist the support of the School of Architecture to help design the structure and experts on environment and engineering to construct the indoor park? Maybe such a structure exists somewhere else and we can adapt it to our northern climate?
I imagine having a very distinct and welcoming place to go in our hometown where we can meet for a comfortable walk, enjoy perennial vegetation and have a meal under a domed structure that is warm and unique.
Time spent in our indoor garden under the glow of special lighting, may do more for our physical and mental health than time spent in a doctor’s office trying to deal with the winter blues.
Why not invest in preventing illness by providing our citizens with a variety of options to stay physical in the winter? Many people do not skate or ski when they reach a certain age. Many love to walk, but not in slushy snow with slippery sidewalks and mountainous snow banks.
How wonderful would it be to go for a daily walk in comfort with pleasant surroundings and a sunny atmosphere?
Patricia Mills is an award-winning journalist and founding publisher of Sudbury Living.
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