We can all let loose our collectively-held breath, now that winter solstice has passed and the sun won't be quite so shy each day. With that combo of dark and cold, it's no wonder that bears and other critters opt for hibernation- every once in a while, I hardly want to leave my apartment, let alone my bed.
But for some, this season has the opposite effect. Families construct backyard ice rinks with the precision of a suspension bridge. People shovel snow away in clean rectangles near lake shorelines, and the Tetris layouts expand farther and farther out as the water freezes thicker and the Saturday games fill faster. Every evening, along my path home from work, a retention pond nestled in the curve of a highway on-ramp hosts a small herd of cars and teenagers hockeying away until they can't see by the intermittent light of headlights any more.
And this, I suppose, is the essence of winter in Canada.