Living in a Winter Wonderland

Donna Sorsa

It is time to break out the winter clothing here in New Zealand!

Our winter has seen a stormy start with flooding, snow, tornado’s, thunder storms and even some volcanic awakenings and earthquakes!

I am not sure if winter has made up its mind about arriving. Strangely we are having warmer days scattered amongst the stormy weather.
This is not typical of Autumn/Winter in New Zealand.  Maybe this is global warming reminding us to be aware of the changes in our worlds environment. We should really be listening to these gentle reminders and take action before it is too late.
I am happy that Environmental Education is taught in our schools and supported in our homes. Teaching children about Climate Change and what they can do to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions holds a powerful message about responsibility and duty of care.

The change of season does mark the beginning of winter sports, the end of dinners cooked on the BBQ (outdoor grill)  and start of the mad dash to the school gates in the pouring rain.

For my household we have not yet signed up to the early Saturday morning frosty sports like many other brave families.
I have many memories growing up, standing on the frosty side lines of my younger brother’s football matches, teeth chattering in the freezing cold.
I guess we learnt early on to keep moving while playing our chosen outdoor sports, as this nurtured a tough mentality playing 40 minutes in freezing temperatures and driving rain.
My mother always had a saying ‘you are not made of sugar Donna; you will not melt in the rain’.

In my early adult years, I spent many a cold winter afternoon on the side lines of a rugby field just to impress a boy. The things we do for young love!
Rugby, it is our nations game, we are very proud to say we are the home of the world famous ‘All Blacks’.
This sport played a significant part in my early adult life.   It lead to some really special friendships all over the world, one most dear to my heart is the friendship with my gorgeous friend Karin from Germany.  This friendship blossomed over a season of winter afternoons in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  Both of us were foreign to the country yet we seemed to find a way to communicate and established a bond that after 10 years of thousands of miles between us still has not broken.   I have so much to write about rugby that I will do so at a later date.

My children enjoy outdoor physical activity but at this stage we have been encouraging martial arts as it supports our family values of confidence, discipline and respect.  For myself I continue to exercise with a fitness group and enjoy Olympic Lifting.  I want to be a good role model for my daughter and promote self-acceptance “Strong is the new Skinny”.

So with winter comes the snow, here in Wellington we don’t see snow in the city but sometimes on the surrounding hills in the region. Our coldest month is typically July, while to us it can get very cold we generally do not drop too far below freezing temperatures on the mainland.

For the keen skier we have many fabulous ski fields in New Zealand (18 to be exact).
In the North Island we have Mt Ruapehu as the main centre (this Mountain is a volcano which is currently showing signs of awakening).  For the South Island you can’t miss the opportunity to ski in the Queenstown / Wanaka region.  Not only is it fantastic skiing but the region is just magical. A small city full of fun and adventure, a favourite of many including my family.

One of the other highlights of winter is to sit back and watch the young children jumping in puddles and dancing with their mouths wide open towards the grey skies, catching the rain drops. It is very hard not to smile while watching them enjoy the fun and innocence of something so simple.

Housing here in New Zealand unfortunately still does not reach the same standards as many European countries in regards to insulation and heating.  Many under privileged and middle class families still struggle to provide warm, dry and healthy homes for their loved ones. Along with this comes sickness, New Zealand has recently changed the funding allocation to provide free doctor visits to children under the age of 13.  This hopefully will ensure children that require medical attention will be treated without any financial burden to the family.

This is the land of the long white cloud, and it is just as stunning in winter as it is in summer.  It does get darker and cooler earlier in the evenings, but I believe that just adds to the romance that winter brings.  It is a time to enjoy what the cold has to offer and the closeness it brings with one another.

Donna Sorsa

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