It’s Cold

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Coming home, freezing wind and blowing snow, Ottawa, November 21, 2018

Feng is watching me getting ready from the staircase.

Boots—hard to put them on this morning, I’m wearing the thickest pair of socks I have. Scarf. Coat. Hat. Gloves.

“You might want to cover your face,” he suggests. “The windchill…”

Feng is my daily weather forecast. In Canada, simply glancing out the window isn’t a reliable method to know what to wear—it can be sunny and extremely cold. I could check the app on my phone but I’m in denial.

I sigh.

“It’s gonna get better,” Feng adds encouragingly.

“Don’t fucking lie to me,” I reply. “It’s November. I ain’t gonna get better—not until May, anyway.”

It’s cold early this year. It’s not just me, even The Weather Network said so.

“A wind chill of -52 was recorded on November 18 and 19 in Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut with a new record low temperature of -35.4 °C also set on November 18. That beat out the previous record of -30 °C set in 1996.” I read while waiting for the bus. It doesn’t make the current temperature in Ottawa, -15 °C, feels any warmer. I mean, Nunavut isn’t supposed to be the new fucking benchmark when it comes to winter weather, alright? You’re like, meters from the Arctic circle, after all!

I’m cold. I’m one of these people who feel cold all the time. “Hi, my name is Juliette and I’m cold,” I could say to introduce myself at a Winter-Hater Anonymous meetings. And everyone would nod back, “hello, Juliette, so are we, please grab another blanket.”

I wouldn’t mind winter if it meant less daylight, a stormy sky and temperatures in the teens. Fair enough, it can’t be summer all the time. When it’s below 10 °C, I need warm clothes. I can still handle 0 °C although I’m wearing my winter jacket by then. Anything below 0 °C and I’m in pain. My hands are dry and cracked, my muscles ache and I just want to be warm again.

Some people can handle cold weather, some people can’t. Clearly, I can’t. I don’t even like ice in my drinks. Please, don’t try to convince me I could if I [insert brilliant idea here, like wearing warm clothes or embracing the magic of winter]. It’s one of these unexplainable biological things that shouldn’t be debated, like being a morning bird vs being a night owl, feeling the urge of parenthood or not, seeking a steady life or taking risks.

I don’t like feeling cold, period.

I’m happy to hear that you don’t mind winter. I envy you. Personally, I like when it’s hot and humid, it’s simply a matter of preference. I guess my body was designed for warm weather. I barely sweat, I tan easily and I generally don’t find heat particularly exhausting. All summer long, I heard people around me complaining about the weather and hiding in air-conditioned malls. That’s fine, I get it. We’re different, that’s all.

“It’s all about layering up!” you probably read somewhere in a Guide to Canada. Gee, why didn’t I think of it? I shouldn’t be wandering around wearing my swimsuit! Seriously, I’m not stupid, I do dress warmly. I have a good coat and I cover every inch of skin, but I’m still cold.

“But people keep their house warm!” you probably heard as well. It’s true, it’s rare to be cold indoors (except in movie theaters, always cold in summer and winter). However, it also takes me five minutes to feel my hands again and ten minutes for the burning feeling on my legs to disappear when I come home. So yeah, indoors, we’re okay. Can you spend five months indoors? I can’t.

I hate feeling warm and cold all the time. I’m okay at home then I’m cold when I step outside, it’s fine in the bus then I get off and I’m cold again, I take a hot shower but then I’m cold when I step out of the bathroom. I hate cold spots in the bed. I’m even avoiding the frozen food aisles at the supermarket.

“What the fuck are you doing in Canada if you hate cold weather?” Well, I’m doing a lot of things in Canada. I’m working, raising a kid, living with the person I love, hopefully contributing to society. I didn’t really review years of weather data before coming to Canada and eventually staying there. Of course, I had heard it was cold in winter but frankly, it’s very hard to describe Canadian winters accurately and it’s almost impossible to know how you will react—I know a few Brazilians who moved to Nunavut and I know a Finnish woman who hated how cold it was here.

The first couple of winters are fascinating. Snow! Very cold weather! Ice! Icicles! Slush! A few winters are warmer than usual—we didn’t always have snow for Christmas. A few more very cold winters. And then at one point, it hit me—I fucking hate winter and no, I never got used to it.

When you live in a country where the informal greeting is “cold, eh?” there’s a lot of emphasis on winter being part of your identity as a Canadian. Bragging rights, basically. “I survived winter!” millions of Canadians rejoice around May. Does not embracing winter makes me less Canadian? Maybe. I never embraced the French drinking culture, so I guess I’m not a true French either.

I chose to become Canadian and I hate winter. It’s called a paradox, people.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Oh man, this is the year I turned to my husband and seriously asked him when we are moving. I just can’t with the winter anymore, and it’s only November! Also, we are considering kids, and the thought of bundling them up every time we go anywhere just seems so overwhelming. I grew up in Paris, so not exactly tropical weather, but going outside was less of a process and I miss the ability to just walk around without prepping for an arctic expedition…

    • Oh, yeah, the damn snowpants… so happy I didn’t grow up in a country where I had to wear that. It looks so bulky and uncomfortable!

      Like you, I miss the easy process of just grabbing a jacket and, you know, stepping out.

  2. I feel you! This not-even-winter-yet period sucks.
    And I don’t really mind the cold usually but now it’s like too much, too soon, too cold!!!
    And the kids just want t go outside all the time.

    How many days till May?


  3. Ooooh ma pauvre!!! Moi j’en suis à vouloir un hiver bien froid, bien blanc ici ! Mais peut-être pas AUSSI froid que chez vous. Entre -10° et 0°C. Mais bon, après je me dis que les routes ne seraient pas aussi bien entretenues donc ça risquerait de stresser mes allers-retours au boulot un poil…
    Après, j’imagine que tu commences à regarder pour un prochain long voyage dans l’hémisphère sud très bientôt… (peut-être même c’est déjà booké!)
    Bon courage en attendant! Crème toi et sors avec la couette s’il faut! Ahah!

    • Je comprends complètement que les paysages canadiens puissent faire rêver! En rêve, 0C et de la neige qui tombe doucement, sans vent, c’est le pied 🙂

      Mais c’est la durée de l’hiver et les phénomènes météos pas fun (genre ce soir, pluie verglaçante) qui mine. Et le froid, le “vrai” froid pour moi…

      Bon, je tente une sortie avec la couette. C’est pas gagné, j’arrive à peine à la plier tellement elle est épaisse 😆

  4. Martin Penwald on

    I’ve been introduced to a video game called “Frost Punk”. In it, in the end of the XIXth century on a steampunk earth, an ice age hit and people had to evacuate cities which where not designed to support a population during this cold.
    It’s a city management game, you are the governor of the city, enact laws, build différent kind of contraptions to help your population to go through the weather and storms.
    In the best case, outside température is at max -20°C, but often under -40° and can go as low as -130° during a storm.
    It’s pretty cynical (one of the game’s achievements is : “Bad Politician” which you get when you KEPT all your promises).
    Just playing it can get you frostbites.

  5. I just read a post from an Indonesian living in one of those Scandinavian Countries, how she pissed off with dark cloud (and cold) and it is just November.
    Coming from a country that lies in equator, a week of no Sun, dark clouds and rainy days in depress me.

    • The lack of daylight affects me but only after December, for some reason. The cold, on the other hand… I just can’t. When is sunrise/sunset right now for you?

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