My friend, Olga, decided to sidestep winter altogether this year. She was living in London for the summer and decided she didn’t want to face a dreary, cold, grey English winter so she moved to Australia! She’s always been a smart, take-charge kind of girl! She went armed with a travel/work visa, a sense of adventure, an English boyfriend, flip-flops and a bikini. What else does a 30-something young woman need, eh? Especially when she won’t have to worry about sub-zero temperatures, snow, ice, and slush — all of which I have to contend with already and it’s still November! Oh woe, woe, woe is me!
I have come to a point where I truly, honestly, in my heart-of-hearts, hate winter. Yes, that season from November until April holds no beauty for me any more. This change of heart all happened in the years since I’ve lived in Toronto. It was a gradual erosion of my once amicable relationship with winter. I am, after all, a winter child, born just a few days after the shortest, darkest day of the year. In my “olden” days in DC when winter came around, I felt like I was in my element. All my hibernating instincts would rouse themselves and I’d snuggle in. Of course, winter in DC is not winter in Toronto. There the sun didn’t abandon us for months on end and skies even stayed blue. There’d be little dustings of snow that I swear fell just to make the monuments look prettier. Then, sometime in January, there’d be one big snowstorm which would close the city down. It was wonderful! I always figured the world let out a sigh of relief when Washington politicians couldn’t get to work. And, the best part about winter in DC, is that come the beginning of March sometimes even in February IT WAS OVER.
My disgruntled feelings about the season here in the North came on gradually. In those Early Years of living here, I didn’t have time to grumble about the weather because I had enough other stressors in my life to deal with like being married to the murmuring ex-husband, dodging anti-American sentiments clothed in passive-aggressive smiles, having no friends, figuring out which way was North so I could understand directions when I asked for them, and trying to drive on roads that had the double threats of streetcar tracks and bicyclists. Obviously, the weather — whether summer, spring, fall or winter — was the least of my worries. But, as these other issues subsided and the number of coats, hats, mitts, gloves, scarves and boots grew in my closet, so did my disillusionment with winter.
Maybe if I had been born to it, I would feel differently. I watched Clara the other day after our Hablamos Espanol session. She pulled on a second pair of pants, tucked a scarf around her neck, pulled a balaclava over her head, zipped up her coat, and finished with three-fingered gloves which reminded me for some reason of someone sucking their thumb. She was biking home and not grumbling one eeney-weeny bit about the cold and wind. I, on the other hand, only had to walk three blocks home and was whining with every layer I put on.
But, she is 42 years younger than me and I do think this aging stuff has something to do with my intolerance of winter. If your knees and feet are arthritic and you had two falls in the last two years, wouldn’t winter streets scare you too???? Every time I walk out on uneven snow, terrifying ice, frosty sidewalks, and half-frozen slush, I start praying. And, worst of all, there’s this Black Ice stuff which I had never, ever heard of let alone encountered until I came to Toronto. I’m a nervous wreck every time I leave the house. I take little tiny baby steps which means it takes me three times as long to walk to the corner. I don’t want to become a shut-in for six months of the year!
If all of this isn’t bad enough, then I also have to put up with all of the people who have the money to escape every winter. The locker room at the gym becomes intolerable from January onward. There’s a constant exodus of members and each and every one of them has to regale you with their itineraries, point-by-point, and then, just to make you feel worse, tell you they’re going to be gone for six or eight or twelve weeks. Do they have no heart at all for us slugs who have no choice but to be here during the worst of the worst? No, because when they come back they talk about listening to the weather reports from back home while sunning themselves on their patios. Ha, ha, ha.
The cats think I’m totally over-reacting. I remind them that they haven’t even tried to stick a paw outside since this cold started. They sigh, having no patience for my grumbles at all. They tell me to just get my own blankie, curl up as tight as possible and go to sleep until April. Oh, while, of course, making regular jaunts to the corner to get their food.
the cats don’t really see what the big problems is — in their thinking it’s more hours of sleep, more food, less shedding…