Rebuild your relationship with winter
The season has so quickly become the moments we cherish, those of warm stoves, glowing canvas, the aromatic balsam which represents so much of what we love about winter; hot tenting. In an instant, toboggans glide along snow following the trail of snowshoes, strings are fastened to poles, and the familiar is comfort in an otherwise uncomfortable place.
Leah gathers boughs in the trees behind our campsite, Hugo, the Newfie yellow lab who can’t fit in a canoe, trails along as a sporting companion. I work at securing the tent corners by freezing the webbing into the snow, then I raise the tent and secure the guy lines.
Before the stove is set, Leah and Hugo are spreading the forest as it slowly becomes our floor, mostly Hugo chews on the twigs.
Before long, the crackle of burning wood is our anthem, the warmth returns to our faces and fingers, and even if the lure of the outdoors gnaws at our adventurous sprits, for now we just lay and enjoy. The work until this moment slips away and gone are the labours of winter trail, the cold of short days, the wind on unseasoned skin. Our little tent is hot now, our energies rekindling, tomorrow we will fish, wander, eat, and enjoy winter, but for now, canvas, wood heat, and balsam are enough.
Leah and I have learned so much in three winters travelling throughout the cold northwestern Ontario winters together. From overnighters to three week, multi hundred kilometre trips, we’ve time again been transfixed by what winter brings to us, a certain sense of satisfaction and challenge that summer misses.
Winter is a time where simple tasks are hard, not frustrating like a summer cloud of black flies, but danger veiled in north winds and arctic temperatures. Tightening ropes with mitts, evaluating changing ice conditions, understanding temperatures and their effect on snow conditions as they relate to walking and pulling toboggans, there’s so many variables that become heightened by frugal weather. Through it all, Leah and I have built a relationship that is so much stronger throughout the complexities of travelling. At days end, when we find ourselves, after a hard day, or an easy day, in the same tent, by the same stove, enjoying the same tea with the same warmth, this shared revival is not motivation to travel another day, rather discipline to know that we have arrived to a place on our own power that together, we need the same power to get ourselves out of.
Esker Tents and wood stoves are freedom to rebuild your relationship with winter, they are the opportunity to set up near to home, invite family and friends, and enjoy the simple rewards that we feel sitting on, or near, the frozen earth.
Furthermore, hot tents are the freedom to roam further, to challenge yourself, and know that at days end you’ll be able to warm up, dry out, and tell stories not through shivered voices. I hope this season that everyone who dreams of winter finds themselves sleeping on boughs, cozy beside the wood stove, transfixed by dancing flickers of flames on the canvas.
_ David Jackson