Friday, December 14, 2012

So, it turns out winter is a thing

When Canada geese attack, really slowly, and honking.
I have not actually experienced a winter, a real winter, like with snow and ice and radiators and boots with the kind of lining that you take out and put on the radiator, since 2008/2009. In December of 2008, I returned to Canada to stay with my mother for a few months. In February 2009, I drove across the country and moved into a tiny pool house in southern California.

Since then, it's basically been years of endless summer. Oh, sure, they have "winter" in Australia -- it rains and gets chilly enough for your nose to run. Some nights it even goes down to 1 or 2 degrees (this is Celsius, Americans)! Gosh! It's important to note, though, that West Australian houses don't have insulation or double glazing, so whatever the temperature is outside, that's what it is inside. When it's 2 degrees Celsius in your bedroom, I can tell you, it feels like minus 50. Everyone spends all winter huddled over these little gas heaters instead of investing in some fibreglass wall insulation. Then they get black lung from inhaling all the fumes. Then they do weird stuff like go swimming in shark-infested waters. I've just explained why Australians do all the potentially life-threatening things they do: poisoned on gas heater fumes.

So this year, I left Australia in March, which is the beginning of autumn. I went from there to Vietnam: a sweaty, sticky country with blazing sun. I hopped right over to the hot season in Thailand, and the rains started to come just as I left at the end of May, bringing me in to summer in Canada. However, I knew it was coming, and as I ticked through September, and then October, and the chill hit the air, I realized: I don't have any winter clothes anymore.

I got rid of my good boots and coats and gloves and things way back in 2009, figuring I'd get some more later when I needed them. Or, more likely, that I'd never need them again, since either global warming would hit and everywhere would be balmy and tropical, or I'd give up any idea of living in a country so gauche as to have a cold winter. Instead, my Australian visa ran out, and I was left with the option of returning to the frozen tundra of Canada, or the morally frozen tundra of the un-socialized United States. Preferring the country with universal health care, I was stuck with winter.

So now that I live in Montreal, a noticeably chilly location, I am finding myself reconsidering this whole "boot" notion. In that I need to go get some. Immediately. The boots I have are lovely boots for winter if you are in California. In fact, that's where I found them: I picked them up out of the gutter in San Francisco, a perfectly good pair of Uggs that didn't smell like urine or anything. They're not waterproof though, and, as I found out in the freak nor'easter that hit New York (and me) immediately after Hurricane Sandy at the beginning of November, they suck balls for cold wet weather. So I need waterproof boots.

But otherwise, I'm doing okay. Although I'm actually living here now, like actually with some furniture and my art about to go up on the walls and my books for the first time in five feels unsettled. I've been moving so long, I don't actually trust that I won't be leaving again in two months. I flirt with the idea of buying some bread flour and then decide against it, because I don't want to leave it when I go. Go where? I'm staying here! My mind plays tricks on me, since I've been so used to nesting in other people's houses for the past nine months, a little mockingbird minimizing my impact on the space around me so I don't intrude. This is MY house now; I'm supposed to intrude. I'm supposed to make it look like me. (Well, like me and Marc, my housemate)

The Canadian cold brings back memories of childhood winters, of wrestling my car up over the Sierra Nevadas in the winter of 2008. It reminds me how long it takes to go outside -- when you need to spend ten minutes to put on your pants and then your other pants and your gloves and your mittens and scarf and hat and coat and then you have to take everything OFF when you get to the other end...let's just stay home. It reminds me of the pleasure in seeing the snowplow go by when I don't have a car to get plowed in. I don't like being cold. I don't like winter. But I think I like this place I find myself in, cold outside, but definitely, most definitely, warm inside.

1 comment:

Sharp11Girl said...

When my sister first move to upstate New York (from California) we had several 45-minute or longer phone conversations just about the weather.