I know. It’s not winter yet. So I hear.
It’s not easy being born and raised in a tropical, sunny country like I did, and then challenge myself to adapt to Canadian winters. You’d think that by now I would be more adjusted. After all, I have already spent a couple of years in the Great White North. But for the last few weeks I’ve been fighting the urge to put my winter jacket on.
The reason I haven’t worn my winter jacket yet is not as noble as you might think – I simply don’t want to look silly. I want to be a cool, laid back Canadian who doesn’t stress about the cold weather.
To compensate my lack of adequate clothing, I have been wearing scarfs, hats, gloves and snow boots. Of course that still caught people’s attention. I have had at least 10 people making fun of me since I moved up here. “Is it winter yet?” – they will ask with a grin on their faces while I walk all bundled up into the gym.
And although everybody I’ve met here keeps saying how nice this November has been (which I am sure is true), it still doesn’t change the fact that the sun sets at 4:30 p.m. Winter hasn’t even started yet, and I am already desperate for some Vitamin D.
This past Sunday I found myself trying to make the most of the sunlight. I parked my car next to a lake, turned up the heat, took off my coat and tried to sunbathe inside my car. And that is not even the most embarrassing thing I’ve done in Canada (but that’s a subject for another column).
My Great White North adventure started when I chose to live on the west coast of Newfoundland (NL). Although Wikipedia told me their winters were mild, it definitely did not warn me that they were windy, humid and mostly overcast. Picture yourself walking 20 minutes to a grocery store, -10 C, and the wind literally preventing you from moving forward. I remember giving up grocery shopping two or three times, returning home and accepting the wind had won that day. And of course, it doesn’t matter which direction you turn in NL, the wind is magically against your face. When winter was finally over, I was really proud of myself. After all, I had made through a Canadian winter! So I moved to St. John’s, N.L., in the spring for my internship, assuming the worst was over. However, as soon as I got there, I was immediately told to buy some Vitamin D. I must’ve looked confused because I wasn’t sure if people were joking, but later I found out St. John’s barely sees any sunlight during the spring months. Not to mention, the city it is the windiest, foggiest and wettest Canadian capital.
My second Canadian winter was in Toronto. Although this one wasn’t as bad (except for a pretty bad ice storm in December 2013), it was certainly funny to watch. Snow doesn’t really accumulate in Toronto, but when it does, politicians will seriously discuss calling the army to clean it up (no matter how many times the rest of the country makes fun of them). Not to mention, they closed Pearson International Airport when they hit -20 C one night. If Calgary or Saskatoon also had to close their airports each time they hit C-20, they would be in serious trouble.
And to add to my list, I caught the end of a winter season in the prairies (although it didn’t feel like the end when it prolonged until summer). By the time I got to Saskatoon on February 27, the wind chill was -50 C (literally not a warm welcome). Only to my surprise, the dry weather and the sunlight made the temperatures more bearable than the on the eastern parts of the country. I look forward to seeing what winter will feel like in the Lakes District, but most importantly, I look forward to that time of the year when it will be OK to wear my winter jacket.