Nova Scotia

WENDY ELLIOTT: How to while away a snow day

When you look outside and the screen on the window is dotted with snow and the thermometre is unreadable due to the white stuff, there’s no need to listen to a weather report. It’s a snow day, a good day to while away the hours.

Last week’s snow day was quite definite — “All English schools on mainland Nova Scotia are closed.”

At our house, that’s license to bring out a deck of cards and the cribbage board.

But everybody’s different. I dropped down to see Wolfville crokinole players at the Church Brewing Company. They were intent on the game, so I had a chat with one of the organizers Candace MacDonald.

“This is a fun group — for everyone, of all skill levels — who is interested in playing recreational crokinole and meeting new people. The club hosts monthly round-robin style tournaments and other crokinole events which take place at various establishments in the wider area,” she said.

“The enthusiasm for crokinole in Nova Scotia is fantastic.”

MacDonald added that after a little more than a year since organizing the group, tournaments are booking up a couple of weeks in advance. More than 50 people have tried the game out and there’s a sense of community.

Windsor is proving a popular spot and participants come from as far away as Peggy’s Cove. Tournaments generally happen each month and 100 per cent of the registration fees are returned as prizes. New players are welcome, she says, and the game is free to try before each tournament. No experience is necessary.

Recently, MacDonald enjoyed watching two young visitors start playing a game and forget all about their distracting cellphones.

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On Feb. 24, the crokinole players are holding a tournament/fundraiser for Valley Search and Rescue. It’s set for the Maritime Express in Kentville, starting at 6 p.m.

According to MacDonald’s partner Rob Butler, crokinole has a history in Canada that is as old as hockey or lacrosse.

The Valley group uses crokinole boards made by the Tracey family of Elmira, Ont. MacDonald says the maple boards are in a league of their own.

For a number of years, the Kings Tabletop and Boardgame Society (KTABS) has hosted a full day of tabletop gaming upstairs at the Kentville Recreation Centre.

Bring along some games you want to play or enjoy our game lending library, says Erin Gaudet.

Families are always welcome, she adds.

The nine-hour event is in partnership with the Town of Kentville and supports the Spike Fund. Admission is free, but donations are accepted at the door.

For cosy winter games, Gaudet recommends “something that you can play with the people who live in your house. That way, during a storm you have something to keep you occupied and you don’t need to worry about braving the elements to get together with other people.”

Choosing games that play well with the right number of people is key. For example, she says, “there are two of us in our house, so I have some games that are designed specifically for two people — Jaipur, Codenames Duet, and Onirim, to name a few.”

Because some games just aren’t as good without a larger group, notes Gaudet, “I also take into account the style of gameplay — cooperative games like Pandemic or boxed escape room games can be very enjoyable on a cosy, snowy day.”

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There are games that can be played solo as well, she adds, for those who live alone or in a space where they are the only board game enthusiast.

“Ark Nova is a recent favourite of mine, and there are quite a few games that include a one-player variant,” she said.

“The classics are always a good choice, games like Scrabble and cribbage are a great way to pass the time and don’t have a steep learning curve — and they’re a great way to keep kids’ brains engaged on a snow day, or when the power goes out,” says the junior high teacher.

Another teacher friend said last week’s storm day happened perfectly for her. It was National Puzzle Day on Jan. 20.

“Looks like my day is planned,” she said with a laugh.

An out-going actor in his spare time generally, Mike Butler finds that “puzzles, for me, are calming, and a reminder of slowing down and enjoying some down time.”

He adds: “They’re great on your own or as a family, they test the mind without being too stressful and once you had a hot beverage, you’re set for a creative, peaceful activity and who doesn’t love a good puzzle swap with a friend or neighbour?”

There’s lots to keep us occupied when winter seems long without resorting to screen time. Take your pick.

Wendy Elliott is a former reporter for the Kentville Advertiser and the Hants Journal. She lives in Wolfville.

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