We are officially in the deep freeze. Although make that colder than your freezer. Temperatures are hovering around the -30C mark, even colder with the wind chill. This will probably last a few weeks, off and on.
How we cope with the weather and surviving the harsh winters is probably the most common question I get asked about by friends, family and blog readers. Let's face it, such low temperatures are somehow incomprehensible when you’ve rarely dealt with numbers below zero. Now in the middle of my third Canadian winter I feel confident enough to write with a little perspective and more knowledge about it.
Canadians are, first of all, pretty well equipped for winter. Snow removal, snow tires, a good winter coat, boots, gloves etc are de rigeur in Montreal. The first year I moved here I felt overwhelmed with what to buy for the children, snow pants, thermals gloves, snow boots –the list of supplies seemed endless. Ultimately, I've decided fashion takes a back to seat to practicality when it comes to outfitting yourself for winter. Really, who cares?
I find Quebecers very sociable and resilient, no whingeing alowed. In the winter, people seem to get together more, outside and in. There are more dinner parties, potluck suppers, more playdates on the toboggan hill. There's a permanent game of hockey being played on the rink behind our house. Or there’s the open invite to the neighbours' cottage in the mountains, plenty of skiing, snowshoeing, tubing etc.
Finally it's all about perception. There are days already this year when I’ve been to pick up the children from school amazed that they're playing outside in such dreadful conditions. They don't care - it's just business as usual. To most, a beautiful sunny day when it’s -20C outside but with clear blue skies is much nicer than a damp cloudy +5C when your bones are chilled and you just can’t warm up.
Inevitably there are occasions when going outside is not an option for more than a few minutes and the winter is undoubtedly long, the daily grind of battling with gloves, hats and neck warmers starts to drive you beserk and there's no sign of the arrival of spring until the end of April...
You can always stay in and knit yourself another hat.