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In our Canadian climate, the landscape season is compressed into 9 to 10 months of absolute crazy hours and intense work weeks. We have to cram an entire year into the months where the ground is not frozen and covered with snow.  That usually means our slowest months of January and February are a time for recharging our internal batteries and catching up with all the parts of our life that get a little lost during the rest of the year.  Household chores, vacations, hanging out with friends, helping with the homework, volunteering….all these things happen more often in the winter months. One of the many reasons I chose to make a career in the landscape industry was the idea that there would be time off to travel and explore during the off season. And for several years, that is what we did; taking the winter off to travel to far off and exotic destinations.  Then, reality intruded in the form of a mortgage and then children, and the travelling stopped for a while.  It has been lovely to again be able to take off to somewhere far, far away  and escape our chilly home climate.  As well as the obvious benefits of enjoying a break from winter in a warm, sunny climate, it is so beneficial to us as landscape architects and designers to be exposed to other cultures and places for design inspiration.  We are relaxed and have time to look around at all the little details that are just different enough to make us rethink the usual way we do things.  We can see different cultural and historical influences that we can use in future designs. People and fashion, buildings and architectural details, urban planning and interior design; all serve to inspire.  Colors and textures, sounds and fragrances can create memories that will influence us in our future projects, all to the benefit of ourselves and our clients.  (And the thousands of pictures I take on each trip will also help to aid the memory and serve as inspiration). But we also have to remember to look around throughout the year, and take the time to be inspired not only by the big trips and the exotic destinations, but also by the nearby locales that are new to us; and the new and amazing adventures to be found right at home. Perhaps in our own backyards….as we Live Outside!