This cold winter has caused a lot of talk – people talking about how they are savoring the cold, how they can’t handle the cold, how they can’t believe others think the weather is actually cold. I fall in the middle, the group that’s been struggling with this drop in temperature the last few weeks. As I walk home tense to keep the cold out of my core I realize that the weather and our reaction to it is relative.
As someone originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia I know snow to be synonymous with winter. I remember months of snow up to my waist, though of course the waist of a seven-year old is much lower to the ground. The cold and snow was just what it was, what I grew-up to expect, so we dealt with it.
Then my family moved, taking the long drive across this large country from one coast to the other coast, transplanting us on Vancouver Island. I remember my first winter on the island. The ground was a covered with a thin white cloth, little green wisps of grass poking out. School was cancelled. Offices were closed. Snowplows were being ferried over from the mainland (since the city didn’t believe in investing in equipment they would rarely use). My sister and I weren’t complaining, who wouldn’t enjoy a day off of school, but we snickered to ourselves about the neighbourhood’s panic over the heavy snowfall.
As some point my family ended up in central Canada, living in Ottawa, Ontario. I spent all my high school years there, in a city where you couldn’t buy a car without a block heater installed. I don’t remember many heavy snowfall days though I’m sure we had our share but I do remember the cold. It was a bitter flesh-peeling cold and I hated it. I couldn’t wait to be done with school and get out of the city.
The move to Toronto was also an adjustment, weather wise. The snowfall was rare and the bitter wind pretty uncommon. Walking downtown in a fall coat it was odd watching the bundled workers, shoulders hunched to the wind. I thought to myself that if this was the worst winter could bring in the city I had nothing to complain about.
But like all of us, I adjusted. My body grew accustomed to the city cold. I didn’t notice the change at first until someone I knew came to visit from Winnipeg. As we ventured out to see the city, all areas of my body covered to protect myself from the weather, I noticed she was just wearing a sweatshirt. She loved the warmer Toronto weather compared to chilly Winnipeg and was happy to shed her bulky winter coat.
Over the years my body has adjusted to the weather. I’ve become accustomed to Christmas without snow and wearing thin gloves so when a bitter cold hits my body retaliates, confused by the change.
My point is we all acclimatize to our surroundings over time. The heavy snow from my childhood in Halifax or the bitterly cold winters I lived through in Ottawa seem like a distant memory, thoughts I dig out from the dusty trunk in my brain. They seem almost foreign as I walk hunched over tearing up over the scratchy stubble of Jack Frost’s beard against my cheeks. It may not be as cold as some parts of the country or the world for that matter but I know what my body feels and it is cold. Sometimes we forget, weather is relative. Something to keep in mind as we all work our way through winter.