Lighting Up a January Night

January has never been a month I could look forward to.

If I had my druthers, I would be totally cool with jumping right over the winter. After New Year’s Day, we could resume the calendar as of April 1st, with all the glorious anticipation of spring. Three seasons would suit me just fine.

I know lots of people who like winter. They look forward to days on the ski slopes and nights snuggling up in front of a blazing fire, mulled wine in hand. It sounds romantic, but honestly my winters have never been like that.

In my Toronto days, there was the horrid commute that was 1567397 times worse during bad weather. My usual half hour commute would easily triple on those days. Starting off my day worried about a potentially dangerous car ride was not the most peaceful way to begin a stressful workday. I’ve also fallen MANY times on the ice. Thank goodness my injuries weren’t physical –  just the cringing embarrassment I would feel when a bunch of people would see me elegantly plopping on my arse. I seem to finally be getting the fact that slippery streets can really be hazardous – something that wouldn’t have even crossed my mind ten years ago. Of course, life still must go on in the winter, but I’m way more careful than I used to be. Then there is the grey-ness of it all. The short, dark days. The snow storms. The days when the wind chill is brutal, and just gets into your bones. Honestly, those days can be really tough.

One of the benefits of getting older though, is that I know myself. The old me would have tried super duper hard to be even more upbeat in the winter. I would have tried to overcome it, tried to “make” myself like winter and be happier. Now, I accept that winter can be hard for me. I don’t wallow in that, but I accept it. As a result, I try to find enjoyable things to do. Not overly ambitious type things like skydiving – just nice, low-key things.

This was one of them last week. We started off by going to the Winter Festival of Lights.

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Seeing winter as “magical”? Well…..I don’t know. That might be too much of a stretch for me. The lights were very pretty though.

We spent our time in the Dufferin Islands area, parked the car and walked most of the display there. Better for taking photos, of course.

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The trees had a very Dr. Seuss-like quality about them.

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Keep your eye on the little bear in the next three photos.

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And the swans.

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I’m not sure what the swoopy thing was supposed to be. Maybe a funky spider interpretation? Or maybe just a pretty swoopy thing.

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As you drive out of the park, you’ll meet some helpful volunteers, willing to guide you to the next location. They also accept donations, which are so essential.

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We drove past the Niagara Parkway – Aura Displays and the Religions of the World Displays too. We didn’t get any pictures of them though, as we didn’t have time to stop.

It was time to meet friends for a relaxed fireside supper, at the 1904 Bar.

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The 1904 Bar is located at the Old Stone Inn Boutique Hotel. When I learned about their 10 for $10 menu, I was happy to give it a try. I’m always looking for reasonably priced ways to have a nice evening out.

I don’t have a bunch of pictures for you, unfortunately. One of the things I’m working on this year is to try and take better night pictures. We all know that daylight is best for photos, but lots of the things I take pictures of occur at night. So I must learn.

Let’s just say, I have much to learn.

We sat right by the fire, and chatted away. After a glass of wine, we placed our order. We made a significant dent in the 10 for $10 menu.

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We all shared the charcuterie board. Ken and Kimberley had the Flour Mill Burger. Steven went for Bacon Mac & Cheese, and I had their Niagara Wings. I also wanted to try the Pork Belly Poutine. Instead of choosing between them, I just went for both. After all, what are weekends for?

It was comforting, hearty winter fare, with a cozy fireside ambiance. Add in good friends, and you’ve got the makings of a really nice night. Even if it is January.

In the past, I was always advised that to “enjoy” winter I should ski, snowboard, skate, snowshoe, dog-sled or some such thing. “Find a winter activity you can enjoy, Joanne!”, those winter-lovers would chirpily say. Trust me, I’ve tried them all – except dog-sledding – and it’s just not my thing. If I don’t like cold and snow, why would I find frolicking around in it fun?

However, finding some nice, easy-to-get-to, easy-on-the-budget things to do just might be my idea of winter activities. If you’re like me and find winter tough, I recommend this strategy.

The Winter Festival of Lights is on until January 31st.