The thermometer says it’s -19 degrees Celsius outside right now, but wait… it actually feels like -26 C, thanks to the wind chill. Now that’s a real Canadian winter! Let me continue to shock you with some very cool numbers. Up in Muskoka, where my parents live, it’s currently -30 C with no wind chill. It’s the kind of cold that makes it hard to breathe as soon as you step outside. It tickles my lungs deep down, waters my eyes, and makes my eyelashes freeze so that they stick together in the corners.
I love this weather, when the whole world is in a spectacular state of deep-freeze, yet the sun continues to shine with intensity, reflecting off the mountains of white snow till they sparkle and gleam like hills of chilly diamonds. Car windows are iced, with frilly snowflake designs along the edges, and the snow makes a wonderful crunching sound when I walk, as if I were squeezing a box of cornstarch.
And yet, all I can hear are complaints. When I turned on CBC this morning, you would have thought we were in the midst of a national environmental emergency: “Keep the little ones inside… Avoid going out unless absolutely necessary… Extra warming stations available… Transit will be running throughout the night… Top news story of the day…” The most irksome comment was, “We’re only one month into winter and already we’re experiencing the second major cold snap. Torontonians have had enough.” I stared at my car radio in disbelief and felt like slapping it. “What do you expect?! We live in Canada, not Trinidad!”
I don’t understand the resentment that so many Canadians feel toward our natural climate. Why can’t we embrace it and feel proud of being able to handle such temperatures with relative ease? Frigid temperatures are no more uncomfortable than scorching tropical temperatures; in fact, I’d argue cold is easier to manage than heat. With the right clothing and a well-insulated house, the cold hardly disrupts the regular flow of life. Extreme heat, on the other hand, infects me with overwhelming lethargy, inability to sleep decently, and general discomfort.
If the cold is so awful, please move somewhere else — or stop complaining. Canada comes with cold, like it or not, so Canadians might as well accept that fact and move on to important subjects, such as why the reliable presence of frigid temperatures in winter is actually a wonderful thing for the environment, rather than 2012’s unprecedented +11 degree C thaw mid-January that caused fruit trees to bloom, then die in bitter April frosts, destroying the year’s harvest. I’ll take predictable weather any day over seasonal anomalies.