It has been less than a month since the first day of winter, and already I am sick of it.
From what I understand, lots of other people are sick of it too, and have wandered off to warmer parts of the world, even snagging seat sales to places like Vancouver, where it is dark and dreary and rains incessently which makes your hair flop like a wet dish rag, unless, of course, you have curly hair, then it springs around your head something like one of those metal scrubbing things. (I think I must have been spending too much time in the kitchen lately, since I keep relating hair to kitchen like objects.)
But, getting back to winter in Alberta.
It is true. It is cold, and my teeth chatter lots for the two and a half seconds it takes to walk to my car to start it so it will be at a reasonable temperature when I slide behind the steering wheel. It is true. The roads are often not fit for cars or humans or any moving form, and I know from experience that watching the car in front of me do a crazy careening thing before finally end up in the ditch is really bad for my blood pressure.
It is true. Snow, with all its pure white, almost ethereal beauty can quickly lose its appeal when you are looking at it from behind the vantage point of a snow shovel.
I thought that I faced the challenges of an Alberta winter like a true Albertan, strong and silent, thinking deep thoughts about nature and wonder and magic that I kept mysteriously stored inside, only to be brought to life in the spring, kind of like the wild rose.
After all, I was born here. I am a child of the Prairies, born West of the Fifth for crying out loud. I remember lots of cold, except, I was, of course, a kid, and kids have some sort of insulation so they don’t’ really feel cold, even when they should be freezing.
The winter of my 15th year I lived on Vancouver Island for a short time. I liked it there, the ocean amazed and fascinated me and I learned to love clam chowder soup, but, mostly, I just wanted one thing. I wanted to come home. And, so I did.
Back to the land of snow and ice, booster cables and snow tires. I love it here.
But, apparently, as I slip and slide and shiver through yet another winter, my lips have been frozen into one single lament.
“I’m so cold, I’m freezing.” I have said this once, maybe twice, OK, probably a hundred thousand times.
And people heard me and, I’m thinking, felt sorry for me, but mostly just wanted me to “shut up.”
And, weirdly enough, it seemed almost every single one of my Christmas presents was designed, in some way, shape or form, to keep me warm and, no doubt, to serve the other purpose, as well.
There were the plug in slippers that vibrated and heated up and were guaranteed to keep my feet toasty warm. There was the towel warmer than allows me to slip out of my bath and wrap myself in a delicious layer of warmth. There were the boots, designed to keep feet warm for temperatures of up to 40 below. There was the hot chocolate heater upper thing that promised to whip and froth my drink to chocolaty perfection. There were several flavored drinks in a package with a snowman cup, which was just the right size for my frozen fingers to curl around with almost sinful pleasure.
I’m sure the duct tape tucked into the slippers was an accident, and not really meant to be used to silence me. I shuffle to the hot chocolate thing, which is only as far as I can go before my slippers become unplugged, and glance out the window where white smatters of snow hit the window with a stormlike ferocity. I sip my hot chocolate and curl my fingers around the snowman mug. I smile.
Winter. It’s not that bad.