I just took the fearless doggums out for a walk in the cold and the blowing snow and the ice and the wind chill. Him: 6 lbs of roughly furry dog, barely 3 inches above ground level, wearing a smallish coat that covers some of his body. Me: Boots, winter coat over heavy sweater, tuque, hood, thermogloves. I was cold. He was overcome with the joy of being outside and able to catch up on all the news sprayed on every pole and dug into every hole, delighted with the highlighting of squirrels (black) against the white, chasing leaves left behind in fall’s bluster. I couldn’t help but admire the guy. Right now he’s licking the ice off of his tummy fur, happy as any dog can be.
It always baffles me how we Canadians universally complain about temperatures of -5 C with wind chills of -11 C at this time of the year, yet wear shorts and t-shirts when these same temperatures appear in the spring. Maybe there is something to that “blood thickening” thing. Maybe the months of poutine eaten to forestall the cold add an extra layer that warms us. Maybe we are just so damn desperate to get outside by spring we love anything that smacks of fresh air. But every year, it’s the same.
Other winter things that happen every year:
– people forget how to drive in the snow. Crashes abound. Everyone forgets how to clear snow off their cars. Crashes abound.
– some group of idiots take their snowmobiles out onto the ice before it is thick enough, crash through and drown. This is repeated in the spring.
– Everyone gets on their “winter faces” – eyes squinched shut, teeth gritted under sealed-tight lips, face tilted down and shoulders shrugging away the wind. No one smiles. It’s like we’ve all been totally botoxed. Mind you, in the Prairies, if you smile, your teeth crack. But that’s when it is -40.
– Everyone in Ottawa starts watching the canal reports for opening day, crossing fingers it will be mystically soon while the weather stays balmy – impossible, but we can dream, eh?
– Snow reports become the most important part of the news. The Weather channel ratings climb.
– People start talking about “a dry cold”….when we lived in the Prairies, it was so cold that your breath would crystallize as it left your mouth, falling like diamonds onto the ground below. When it’s -40, the air can’t hold water. It is always a dry cold then. Snow evaporates. Here in Ontario, we should be so lucky. We get the damp cold. The Maritimes get the wringing wet cold. It’s all ever so slightly different on the body.
But slowly, slowly, we start to adapt. So that when spring comes and we’re back to “only -5!”, we fling open our windows and revel in what we now reject.