Winter, ice, and the Great White North

I am so not ready for winter. I first realized this at the beginning of the month, after waking up to frosted car windows.

I am so not ready for winter.

I first realized this at the beginning of the month, after waking up to frosted car windows. I bought my car in April, right before the season when air conditioners are the main way of regulating temperatures. Heaters and ice scrapers were unnecessary.

Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Neither my wardrobe nor my car seem to have received the memo. I didn’t have a scraper and my closet is woefully low on warm sweaters and boots.

Jack Frost must be as much in denial as I am. There were no delicate crystals on my car’s windows that frosty morning. Instead, a thick layer of ice chunks coated the car and froze my doors shut.

After wrenching a door open, I turned the heaters on the windows full blast, hoping to melt the ice away. Unfortunately, the heaters were taking more time than I had to spare. I had heard about people using credit cards to scrape their windows. With stiff fingers, I dug out my Visa card.

After several failed attempts, I was forced to realize the ice was too thick for my little card to handle. I headed back into the house and returned with a pair of scissors. I poked the ice chunks with the tip and tried to scrape them with a blade before realizing the most effective way was to use the handle. I was finally able to clear the windows enough to drive.

I got a scraper and snow brush as soon as I could. My car is now better equipped than my wardrobe, to which I have grudgingly added my winter coat. I still refuse to wear boots.

I feel like I owe summer an apology for complaining about the heat and sleeping with a fan on. I doubt I’m the only one. I squandered the best of the season with my attempts to cool off. Now, as winter sets in, I long for heat.

It seems to me that a big part of living in Canada is searching for the perfect temperature. For most of the year, it’s too cold. For a couple months, it’s too hot. Goldilocks would hate Canada, even though there are some days that are just right.

When I was in university, I was required to take a couple Canadian Studies classes to receive my journalism degree. One of them, a history course, explored different aspects of Canadian identity, including hockey, the railroad, and multiculturalism. Winter, and the notion of the “Great White North”, were also big topics in the class.

Course readings suggested that winter is an important part of Canadian identity because it is something our perpetual rivals, the Americans, haven’t claimed as their own. Winter in Canada, my textbook said, means playing hockey and warming yourself over a Tim Hortons coffee and doughnut.

On a recent trip to New Brunswick, I found myself seated next to a Colombian girl on my connecting plane to Toronto. She had spent a month studying in Taber. I asked her what she thought of the weather.

She said the weather wasn’t too cold. After my car-scraping difficulties, I felt a spark of indignation to hear the weather wasn’t too cold. Of course it was. I told her it was really cold in Canada during winter.

Like my textbook suggested, it seems I wear winter like a badge of Canadian honour.

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