It’s rapidly getting chillier outside, and I’m rapidly getting more panicky about how I’m going to handle the winter months. Some people joyously welcome October and the changing leaves, donning their leggings and oversize sweaters and ordering their pumpkin spice whatevers (OK, I do this too; don’t judge). I agonize about the coming snow and ice storms.
I don’t do well with the cold at the best of times—my medical explanation is that my body circulates blood like a swamp circulates water, though I’m sure that the situation is significantly more complicated than that. In any case, unless it’s sunny and at least twenty-five degrees Celsius, I’m probably wishing that I were wearing another layer.
In the lead-up to my move to Toronto from the West Coast, I frequently received comforting votes of confidence from friends and family members alike.
“The weather’s going to kill you,” someone casually told me over coffee one day. No need to elaborate, apparently.
While I’m not dead yet, there are inevitably a few days every year that I look back and think, “You were right, highly insensitive friend, you were right.”
In actuality, it’s not nearly as bad as all that. In fact, I kind of prefer the sun and snow of Toronto’s winters to the perpetual rain and gloominess of those in British Columbia. And it’s not like Februarys are balmy where I grew up; they’re a different kind of cold, a damp one that really gets to you. At least Ontario is honest about the fact that for a couple months of the year, things really suck. In Victoria, people—read: my parents—go around in windbreakers and fail to turn on the heat. (Of course, it’s all relative; other parts of Canada get it much, much worse than Toronto does, and I’m not making any claims to greatest-Canadian-weather-suffering. Though I’m super competitive by nature, that’s a contest I don’t want to win.)
Last year was really bad here, weather-wise: even with my arsenal of electric blankets, heating pads, and water bottles, I tried my best to avoid leaving the apartment. But being a hermit for five or so months of the year isn’t healthy or feasible, at least not if I want to fulfill my professional duties and lead a semi-normal life, so I’ll have to think of more tenable solutions. I already have decent winter gear—a bulky jacket, long johns, etc. —and drink endless streams of hot beverages. If I want to be able to walk without waddling and go more than five minutes without a bathroom break, I can’t ramp things up in those departments. To make matters worse, my husband, who’s from the southern United States, a significantly warmer climate than I am, has adjusted admirably to Ontario winters and now handles them much better than I do.
There’s that competitiveness again. I MUST LEARN TO COPE.
This will be the winter I embrace the cold. This will be the winter I learn to snowshoe. No, this will be the winter I walk to the grocery store when it’s fifteen degrees below freezing. No, this will be the winter I walk to the streetcar stop without muttering profanities under my breath, at least not loudly enough for others to hear.