How ready are Albertans for cold winter months?

This week’s check list: Is your car winterized? Are the family boots, gloves, toques, coats and scarves all neatly lined up in the closet?

This week’s check list: Is your car winterized? Are the family boots, gloves, toques, coats and scarves all neatly lined up in the closet? Is the snowblower serviced and the shovel where you can find it? Have you signed up for all those winter sports and activities you want to join? Of course there are many other early preparations we can perform to make us winter wise and ready but my biggest concern is that my comfy long johns and favourite old coat will still fit and when are we supposed to get our flu shots?

Who knows when and how winter will invade our neighbourhoods but if we have lived in Alberta long enough we should know by now to be ready for just about anything for the next six months or so. Personally, I don’t miss raking leaves, shovelling snow and scratching frosty windows but then on the other hand winter should not be the time to go into complete couch and cuddle seclusion.

In fact, the wonderful world of winter can be quite invigorating if you dress properly, then get out and enjoy the crisp fresh air without dust and bugs. How great it is during winter just to get outside, frolic in the snow, catch a glimpse of the northern lights, then dash inside to get warm and snug in front of the fireplace or stove, while watching all those great new television shows and Christmas advertisements that will appear quicker than you can say, “Daddy has a tummy like Santa!”

Whether you walk, jog, pull a sleigh, or whatever, there are so many outdoor activities where we can shake and shiver, and those rosy cheeks and runny noses are quite healthy, but bring lots of Kleenex and always be aware of Jack Frost’s bite. Then there are those invigorating outdoor sports such as skiing, skating, road hockey, snowball fights, and dare I forget ice fishing once all the lakes and ponds are frozen.

Of course our winter sports to play and watch will feature: hockey, figure skating, curling, and all sorts of other games where we can relax inside and enjoy a shot of hot chocolate, toddies or soup.

Quite likely we are all still somewhat basking in the memories of a fantastic long hot summer and most of us will never really panic about winter until that dreaded day when the snow comes tumbling down, the first blizzard roars through and the pavement turns into Slicksville. Our first thought will be to put on the winter tires but it should always be to drive carefully and have an ample supply of ice melt in the garage to avoid a nasty fall or a lawsuit. We will also be reminded now by police and emergency officials to listen to impending weather forecasts and to make sure that our vehicles are safe and properly equipped just in case we run into frigid conditions or bad roads during our travels, no matter how near or far the distance might be.

Some of course will say, don’t panic Mike, it’s only Oct. 10 and there should still be enough Indian summer left to finish up the harvest work, to have one more round of golf and hopefully for our children to celebrate a balmy Halloween. Last year the Old Farmers’ Almanac was rather out in left field with its fearless winter forecast, while I will readily admit that I am not really smart enough to figure out those early warning signals of nature that our oldtimers usually wisely utter as soon as the leaves start to fall. Whether we want to believe it or not, we all know quite well that when Old Man Winter wants to cast his frigid fantasy upon us, he will, with little notice.

By the way, those flu shots start on Oct. 15 and this time we will get the option of the shot in the arm or a nifty little nasal spritz. Watch the Ponoka News for notices of dates and location of local clinics, and if you have any doubt, contact your doctor.

Why I refuse to go on bus tours

Groups of happy Canadians were travelling by tour bus through Holland. As they stopped at a large cheese farm, a young guide led them through the process of cheese making, explaining that goat’s milk was used. She then showed the group a lovely hillside where many goats were grazing. “These,” she stated, “are the older goats we put out to pasture when they no longer produce.

She then asked the group, “What do you do in Canada with your old goats?”

A spry old gentleman quickly answered, “They send us on bus tours!”

Try to stay young, no matter what your age, and have a great week, all of you!