After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Plunging in to the New Year

We ran across a frozen field of grass that felt like broken glass on our feet and stumbled into the sauna. Within 10 minutes, I was convinced that a new tradition had been created.

Polar Bear Swim. Photo courtesy of Manda Aufochs Gillespie
Photo courtesy of Manda Aufochs Gillespie

Swimming on the first day of the year has long been a central part of celebrating the new year. When our daughter was one month old, we put her in the loving hands of our neighbors so we could climb over mounds of ice to plunge into lake Michigan in Chicago. Since moving to Vancouver, we've continued the tradition. We try every year to find a secluded place to make the plunge into the new year with feet-numbingly cold swims.

This year, as our kids are getting older (and perhaps our courage waning), we decided to do our tradition in style. We contacted Adrian and Andrea at Transformation Projects to see about using their sauna bus. That's right, they've converted a school bus into a traveling sauna, including a kitchen and eating area.

Photo courtesy of Manda Aufochs Gillespie

They parked the bus along the shores of Jericho Beach and we, along with with about 8 friends and their kids, took the plunge. For many of them, this was their first polar bear swim. They said that it was the sauna that gave them the courage to take the plunge. 

Starting the year with such an intense experience seems like a good omen for the year ahead. The numbness of your feet implies you'll have the strength to overcome the pains in the year ahead. Surviving the breathless feeling you get as you dunk your head is proof that your heart will last another year for sure. And that hot tingling feeling you get when you've finally stumbled out of the water means that once again, the year is surely going to have some sizzle.

With the introduction of the sauna bus, we added some comfort to the ritual. We ran across a frozen field of grass that felt like broken glass on our feet and stumbled into the sauna. Within 10 minutes, I was convinced that a new tradition had been created. We sat in the sauna for hours soaking in the delicious heat, the smell of Eucalyptus and Cedar, and the view of our kids playing outside with the ocean and mountains as their backdrop.

As it was a potluck, each family had brought treats to share, so we enjoyed brunch when it was time to cool down. With fresh quiche from Aphrodite, a big pot of home made black Eyed Peas (a southern tradition), and fresh brewed coffee, we ate as if we were at the best restaurant in the city. 

So, for those who took the plunge, 2015 was ushered in with some pain and glory, and this year, for me with some comfort! May it be a good omen for the year ahead. Spending time on our amazing waterfront with friends and family in such a lovingly retrofitted bus done-up by creative Vancouverites was an inspiration. May these qualities be a part of the year ahead for us all.

Find out more information about the sauna bus here.

Click here, for more information on the green mama.

More in Commentary

Why free trade talks with China failed

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau jetted off to Beijing, the media was told to expect the announcement of a free trade agreement, the first of its kind between China and a G7 country. The first sign...

A young Iranian helps Syrian refugees adjust to Canada

A young Iranian, himself, new to Canada reaches out to help Syrian refugees settle here. But with the war in Syria, tensions between Iranians and Syrians are rising. How will he succeed?

Linda Solomon Wood on a Bloomberg presidential bid

What do you think of Bloomberg's intimation he may run for president? I think it's a terrible idea.  The last time we had a strong third party candidate in a presidential race it was Ralph Nadar...
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.