Still breathing but barely

Laina Hughes

One of the most tiresome refrains of the Winnipeg-hater is “There’s nothing to do.” And one of the most tiresome responses is “BUT OF COURSE THERE IS YOU JUST DON’T KNOW WHERE TO LOOK.”

I’ll try not to be annoying about it, but the latter is true. We may not have a thriving nightlife or a boppin’ bar scene, which is unfortunate (for some), but there are so many delightful hidden treasures this city has to offer.

I woke up one Saturday morning a few weeks ago to a splitting, earth-shattering hangover – a souvenir from the high school house party I somehow ended up at the night before. While the most tempting course of action was to loll about in my bed and feel sorry for myself, I knew I was too old for that kind of stuff (and way too old for high school parties), so I dragged myself out from the covers and eventually wound up at Fort Whyte Centre.

You see, at a more optimistic/sober moment, I’d enthusiastically agreed to do an early morning workout and yoga class at Fort Whyte with a couple of friends. I saw no issue in waking up early on a Saturday for an intense outdoors exercise routine, and I definitely didn’t seem to care that it would be less than toasty outside on such a morning.

This changed, though, as soon as we arrived. After a brief introduction and warm-up, we set out on a light jog around the grounds. The sky was grey and it rained, sparingly. It was certainly not warm, but the more we moved the warmer we got and the better I felt.

We were surrounded by skinny birch trees that moaned in the wind, some leaves clinging to branches while others crackled under our runners. We would stop in a clearing and for some calisthenics, while the squirrels and birds looked up from their foraging every once in awhile to give us a bemused stare.

The workout ended with a yoga routine in the centre’s multi-purpose room. We stripped off our sweaty outer garments, ohmed a few times, then downward dogged to our hearts’ content while looking out over the tree-lined pond, as geese passed overhead in their patented formation, the flying V.

While Fort Whyte is technically outside city limits, what a pleasure to have such natural beauty within arms’ reach. To feel the warm isolation of being away, outside of the city, while not being very far at all.

As if the morning wasn’t pleasant enough, my friends and I decided to check out the Winnipeg Etsy Street Team Craft and Vintage Sale as a reward for our hard work exercising with the geese.

As a wannabe creative person, it’s indescribably invigorating to be in a room filled to the brim with creative people. Here were crafters, soap-makers, knitters, vintage-collectors and all sorts of folks passionately peddling their wares. There was no pretense or sense of irony, only oodles of talent and heart. I happily shelled out some dough for some handmade goods, then toddled back to my apartment to hang my new art up on the walls.

But not before my friend said, “That was such a Winnipeg day.”

Couldn’t agree more. From hungover to happy within a few short hours – could that be a new

Winnipeg city slogan?

When I got home the radiators clanged and hissed in the hallways. The heat was on and winter was coming. I was ready.

Laina Hughes is a writer from Winnipeg. Pick up a copy of her book Wolseley Stories at McNally Robinson.

Published in Volume 68, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 13, 2013)

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