“Can you hear me okay? Sorry, I have to use the Bluetooth headset.”
Wise parents of Canadian immigrants know there’s only one good reason why Bluetooth headsets are used—it’s too cold outside to hold a phone. Even with gloves, hands go numb and painful.
Typing this makes me chuckle. I’m picturing ice storms, windchill and severe winter conditions being commented around the world on Skype with relatives and friends in tropical or temperate regions of the globe. I’m sure someone’s mom in Dubai or father in Kuala Lumpur is very knowledgeable about ice and snow.
“It will be. I’m walking in the blizzard right now!”
“And here I am, on the balcony, watering flowers…”
“Okay, it’s not a real blizzard. Just… snow and wind. A light blizzard.”
“What are you wearing?”
“Shorts. Nah, just kidding. What I am not wearing, more like.”
Indeed, initially, it wasn’t that bad when I made this call on November 9. The first snow on November 7 was as picturesque as ever, just a few centimetres coating trees and branches.
I thought we’d be fine for a while.
I was wrong.
Winter stage 2 wasn’t as lovely.
When a serious snowstorm was forecast last Monday night, I geared up for the fight—that’s what winter is, a long battle with the elements. I don’t believe everything the news tell me but buzzwords like “snowpocalypse” and “snowzilla” tend to get my attention—weather forecast in Canada isn’t fake news.
That night, after the gym, I walked to Ardene where I bought a new tuque (last year’s had gone MIA), two pairs of gloves (last year’s have holes) and a cozy throw. The clerk gave me a weird look. “It’s going to snow!” I warned her, immediately feeling like a crazy lady predicting the apocalypse. She shrugged. Mind you, she looked like she was about 15 and she was wearing a cropped top, so I probably sounded like her mother who, I’m sure, constantly advise to “dress for the weather.”
The throw is awesome, by the way. In fact, I’m wrapped in it right now.
“You look like a Bolivian woman!” Feng laughed when he saw me a few minutes ago.
“Very wise women,” I nodded. “Remember how chilly it gets around Lake Titicaca?”
On Monday night, I took a last look at the snow-free street. I sighed. Snow is going to stay on the ground until… I don’t even want to know.
I was somewhat prepared for snow but not for frigid temperatures in fucking November. Even The Weather Network assessed it’s not supposed to feel like -20⁰C with windchill that early. I mean, this is Ottawa, not Iqaluit.
The cold caught me by surprise. It’s hard to describe what it feels like if you’ve never experienced temperatures below -15⁰C. For a second or two, you’re fine, then it hurts. Exposed skin burns and gets numb. It hurts to breathe. Muscles are sore. “Dress for the weather” is the best advice we have around it but it doesn’t mean you’re not in pain. I know I am.
Was I overreacting? I checked the temperatures. RealFeel, -25⁰C. Okay, it was legitimately cold.
Ottawa didn’t handle early winter well.
You can’t wait it out. It’s not going to be better until next spring, and by “spring”, I mean May or June.
Cold weather—this kind of cold anyway, anything below -10⁰C plus windchill—makes me anxious. I feel trapped, I’m exhausted, I’m cold all the time even at home. It feels like I’ll never be able to warm up. It’s like having an unstoppable force hitting you relentlessly.
It’s still cold tonight. I’m still cold tonight.