Shinny on an outdoor rink This is the Canadian version of what Americans do on inner city hoops courts and Europeans do on soccer pitches. It's totally democratic. Whoever comes plays - at the same time. There are no goalies, no raises, no checking and no whistles. And you can skate in all-ages and all-women games, depending on the sked (see www.toronto.ca/parks). See the Winter Index, page 39.
Strapping into your board Whether you prefer shredding the freshest powder, pimping the perfect pipe or just carving your way slowly down the hill and soaking in some mother nature, snowboarding can free your soul from the confines of the slushy city and give you a good butt workout, too. And there are decent hills less than an hour's ride outside T.O. See Winter Index.
SNOWSHOEING You don't have to head to cottage country. On January 29, enjoy an evening snowshoeing trek from 6:30 pm, or February 12 from 9 to 11 am, at Humber Arboretum Nature Centre. $8-$10 includes use of snowshoes, juice and a snack. Advance registration. 416-675- 5009. For more info on other spots to 'shoe, see the Winter Index, page 39.
WINTERCITY FESTIVAL The 14-day outdoor festival, slated for January 30 to February 12, features circus performances, concerts, pole climbers, Cool Kids series, fireworks. 416-338-0338, www.toronto. ca/special_events.
cross-country skiing Pretend you're a coureur de bois after a heavy snowfall in one of the city's many ravines, or shush through the zoo and see polar bears, seals and wolves. Winter Index, page 39.
Snow forts You can be a builder and designer at the same time.
HeadING to the islands Toronto's islands, that is, and then pretend you've happened upon some cozy northern village.
HOT STOVE Every Thursday from 3 pm, the two outdoor bread ovens at Dufferin Grove Park (416-392-0913) are fired up so that ice skaters and farmers market shoppers can bake their own bread. Sourdough starter is provided, and first-timers are welcome to show up early and watch the market's bakers to get the hang of the equipment.
SUGARING OFF The extraction of maple syrup from our national tree is a winter ritual right up there with polar bear skinny dipping and the Leafs choking. Explore a sugar bush or enter a flapjack-flipping contest at Elmira's annual syrup fest April 3 (1-877-969-0094) or take part in a hayride and a scavenger hunt during the 2004 Sugar Bush Maple Syrup Festival at both Bruce's Mill Conservation Area in Stouffville and the Kortright Centre for Conservation in Kleinberg from March 6 to April 12. 416-667-6295.
Tobogganing Try Christie Pits or cardboard box toboggans in Trinity Bellwoods Park or hurtling down Riverdale Hill, with the view of downtown in the distance. For more info on T.O.'s hills, see the Winter Index, page 39.
Wool-lined, waterproof rubber work boots Squish them into the semi-solid chunks of slush that form between footprints on busy sidewalks. Or wade in them through the small lakes of murky slush water that form at every intersection. Don't worry about how ugly they are.
skating At City Hall or Harbourfront Centre or Ramsden Park or Grenadier Pond in High Park or on the outdoor rink in your neighbourhood. For outdoor rink info, See Winter Index.
Sierra Club winter excursions Camp in the snow, learn about the environment and dogsled in Algonquin Park. For more info, go to http://eastern.sierraclub.ca.
at least It's not Edmonton Where it's minus 35 to 45 degrees Celsius and exposed skin freezes solid in 30 seconds.
People helping each other out after a snowstorm
Nothing bonds like shovelling snow off the shared lane or pushing somebody's car out of a snowbank.
On the scene
YOU CAN SEE THE FUTURE The ESP Psychic Expo & Seers Fair features lectures and demos by astrologers, clairvoyants, numerologists, palmists and more. February 18 to 20 at the International Centre. http://www.caribphoto. com/psychic.htm/
ROBBIE BURNS DAY Celebrate the birthday of the Scottish bard at a scotch-tasting evening Friday (January 23), 7 to 9 pm, for $46. On the day itself (Sunday, January 25), the haggis is piped out to live music. Noon to 4 pm. Mackenzie House. 416-392-6915.
ST. PATRICK'S DAY The beer turns green and T.O. shows its serious commitment to the bar experience. Consult NOW's Bar and Pub Guide, out March 11, for tips on what's up at the city's watering holes.
Dinner parties They're nicer when it's cold out.
sex-pectations Is there a better way to stay warm than a little canoodling? Check out NOW's second annual Love & Sex Guide in the February 5 issue, a great warm-up for Valentine's Day. Or try one of Come as You Are's one-day workshops. www.comeasyouare.com
HOT drinks While everyone else is getting their outdoor fix, you can be whipping up the cream for the hot chocolate or warming up the cider.
OSCAR PARTIES The Academy's moved the date up from its usual slot. What will they wear? Scoffing's the fun part, and since this is one of those unpredictable years, pool betting should heat the party up.
TAKING OFF YOUR SKATES You get that hot flush in your feet, and putting on your shoes gives you that super-toasty feeling.
MUTED SOUND We love it when city sounds are muffled by a thick blanket of fresh snow, or at dawn when it's really, really quiet.
Allan Gardens Get a huge hit of oxygen and warmth from the fabulous tropical plants.
Crisp air It smells better than smoggy air, and people with allergies are a lot happier.
harbour fronts Ice in the harbour forms cool patterns, and the mist plays across its surface.
WIND TUNNELS Stand at the intersection of Bay and Wellesley, for example, and your eyes tear and then your tears freeze on your rosy cheeks.
snow melting on hair It creates an amazing diamond effect.
Lush scarlet lips Especially when they're set against sun-starved skin.
high-stakes glamour Wearing high-heeled evening sandals in below-zero weather.
BEING FASHION-SENSELESS Winter is the great leveller - everyone looks equally unglamorous, no matter what their income.
the beauty of crimson cardinals foraging for berries in the winter snow They stay all season and mate for life.
red-tailed hawks sweeping over the Don Valley These birds ride the thermals of the winter sun in their search for mice and pigeons.
sunrise in the Don You can cross trails with cottontail bunnies or catch graceful beavers gliding through the chilled river.
play spot the deer in the Rouge Do it at twilight, when the wary, puffy-white-tailed creatures feed on twigs, bugs and bark.
MARVELLOUS MOSQUES ROM curators lead a bus trip to visit Shia and Sunni mosques, plus an Islamic art and history tour through the museum's collections. February 5. Royal Ontario Museum. 416-586-5549, www.rom.on.ca.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN' S DAY Women converge for the annual celebration of women's rights and activism on March 6. Call Women Working with Immigrant Women, 416-963-4420.
Black History Month We think black history should be a year-round preoccupation, but in February we do get some very decent slates. For example, the Urban Book Festival presents screenings and talks featuring George Elliot Clarke, Dalton Higgins and Nelson George at Urban Books Village, corner of John and Richmond, February 1 from 2 to 8 pm. email@example.com
Or check out Harbourfront's Kuumba festival February 5 to 8 and 13 to 15 with Jamaican dub poet Mutabaruka performing February 14, Black Underground Jazz tribute concerts to Robert Nesta (Bob) Marley on February 7 and Nina Simone on February 9, a five-film Marlon Riggs retrospective, and cult favourites like The Harder They Come and Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song. 416-973-4000 or www. harbourfront.on.ca
ASIAN lunar New Year T.O. has the second-biggest celebration of this holiday in the world. This year a multicultural celebration features acrobatics, stunts, music and martial arts performances. Today (Thursday, January 22) from 7 to 11:30 pm; January 23-25 from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm; January 26 from 11:30 am to 4 pm. $12.50-$68. Skydome. 416-913-3024.
Getting crafty Take a jewellery class at George Brown College and learn the basic skills and techniques, including cutting, filing and soldering. Next session starts Saturday (January 24). Register at 416-415-5000, ext 4867, firstname.lastname@example.org. Or try the $8 Clay Pit Drop-In open pottery sessions on Sunday afternoons at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art. 416-586-8080, www.gardinermuseum.on.ca
STITCH AND BITCH Start your own knitting bee where you can drink hot cider, shoot the shit and make cozy knitted goods.
Heat up your body with a Bikram yoga class It'll get your circulation moving and you'll feel toasty warm for hours afterward. 1911 Queen East (416-686-2584), 720 Spadina (416-961-9530), 372A Danforth (416-778-7744), and other locations.
WATCHING THE LEAFS COME CLOSE Maybe this year, just maybe. Air Canada Centre. $25 and up. 416-870-8000. Online tickets www.torontomapleleafs.com.
TORONTO ROCK LACROSSE The Rock play at the Air Canada Centre and lacrosse is - sorry, hockey freaks - Canada's national sport. 416-596-3075, online tickets www.torontorock. com.
RAPTORS BASKETBALL OK, so their record is only even. But we have Vince Carter, who's still one of the most entertaining players in basketball, and that hot skinny rookie Chris Bosh. At the ACC. 416-870-8000; online tickets www.nba.com/raptors.