This winter is apparently one of the warmest with barely enough snow to cover the ground. But it got cold today—temperatures of -15C, real feel of -20C.
I had no idea what “cold” actually meant when I first came to Canada.
My hometown in France is on the Atlantic coast, on the same longitude as Vancouver. It doesn’t really get any colder than 0C, but damn, it’s so damp in the winter. I remember walking to school at 7 a.m. and getting soaked on the way, cold slowly getting to my bones. French buildings are old, even indoors it feels damp.
I don’t like cold weather. I even wore gloves in Guatemala, in the highlands, and I was freezing in Equator. I’m just not trained for it.
I landed in Canada in February. Call that a crash course! I exited Pearson airport wearing only a sweater and the wool jacket that I bought a few months earlier in the Peruvian highlands. I stood there, my passport in my hand, my breath floating into a tiny cloud above me. My face felt like it was peeling, numb because of the freezing wind, pants rubbing against my skin. It hurt. Canada’s dry biting cold. The country’s trademark.
I learned a lot about the weather in Canada. Let’s say you get up in the morning and see a clear sunny sky outside… well, in Canada, it means it’s freezing cold. When the sun reflects on the shiny sidewalk? Watch out, ice. See the yellow flashing light over there? It’s the snow truck, don’t get stuck behind it… Have to go somewhere tomorrow? Check the weather channel, forecasts are usually accurate, postpone if blizzard is on the way. These small stones on the ground? Road salt. Kills your car, roads, your shoes and pants hems.
I learned to protect myself. To wear long socks, several layers of clothing. To cover every single inch of skin. I learned that I wouldn’t win the battle against the cold. That it’s sometimes better to stay indoors, sipping a warm tea, wrapped into a blanket.