I immediately noticed the new addition at my gym when the sliding doors opened to the changing room.
Wincing, I stepped on the brand-new grey walkway mat hastily taped to the spotless tile flooring.
The red carpet is rolled out for A-list celebrities in other parts of the world. In Canada, we use grey mats to deal with a special kind of party crasher—snow.
And the ominous thick non-slip mats meant it was on the way.
Pallets of yellow ice salt bags replaced Halloween pumpkin a few weeks ago, but since big-box stores starts offering back-to-school supplies in July, Thanksgiving dinner favourites in August and Advent Calendars in October, it was easy to dismiss them as “winter creep”—just a way to fill the space before the next cash-grab holiday, basically.
But come to think of it, I had also noticed more and more plastic bins in parking lots and around stores—FYI, this is not where we hide bodies in Canada, these heavy-duty bins are full of ice salt. If you feel like helping keep sidewalks and walkways safe, grab some and have fun.
Now, if the gym was setting up mats, it meant that winter was about to barge into our lives once again.
Indeed, the half-dozen members changing from city clothes to sportswear were all talking about it.
“Shit, it’s my weekly show-up-at-the-office day.”
“It’s going to be a mess.”
“Five to ten.”
“But they always get it wrong.”
Still in denial, I took off my coat and grabbed my phone from my pocket. Indeed, an angry red exclamation mark was now displayed under the current temperature. I tapped it.
“Weather advisory… something something winter… something something lake effect…”
Canadians are very detailed when it comes to the weather forecast. Like, they can talk about it for ages. I didn’t have the patience to read why exactly winter had decided to ruin a perfectly acceptable week of November. I wanted facts, times, and dates.
Ah, right there. “Five to ten centimetres.”
I sighed. I hate winter. Yes, I’m fully aware that I live in Canada.
It did snow the next day. “But it’s so pretty!” friends and relatives said when I emailed the first winter wonderland picture of the season.
It is. For about a day. After that, all you can do is damage control.
Take these fucking grey mats, for instance. In case you were wondering, they serve several purposes—the fancy heated version melts ice and snow for safer outdoor walkways, while the dumb indoor version collects ice salt and dirty boots to protect existing flooring.
These mats also provide the most unpleasant sensation known to mankind—wet socks. These torture devices are very absorbent and you won’t see they are soaking wet until you take off your boots and step on the mat provided. When I used to drop off Mark at daycare, I left every morning with cold, soaked socks for five months in a row because I had to take off my shoes at the door and step on the damn mat where dozens of other winter boots had left behind salt and melted snow.
Other unglamorous sides of winter include piles of ice salt on sidewalks (ruins shoes and jeans hems) and ice patches, loud plowing and clearing vehicles (watch for them on sidewalks), dry skin, aches and pain, and more.
Did I say I hate winter?