You’ve got to love winter in Manitoba – when it arrives, there’s no mistaking it. Like awaiting a federal election, in the days before it arrives you get that cold chill creeping down your back and you can just feel it sneaking up on you, like it or not. And then BANG! It's arrived. Thankfully, unlike politicians, winter makes our world fresh, it does actually go away after a while, and doesn’t make promises it can’t keep.
I’ve always been fine with winter arriving. Not just because it’s new and brighter and fun with winter activities like skiing, tobogganing and skating, but also because I know everyone else is suffering through the cold, JUST LIKE ME.
But stop the presses – this has all changed!
For those of you who are living north of the equator, like me, did you know there are other people in the world who aren’t suffering through this right now? Really. They might even be reading this blog while we speak (and you know who you are…). Do you realize that while we’re here reluctantly anticipating three or four solid months of long johns, bulky clothes and frozen extremities, they’re acting all crazy, doing things like planting flowers and getting their lawn mowers out?
Okay, so I know our winter’s not too hard to escape, with places like Mexico, Hawaii or Florida all within a half dozen hours on a plane, but hey, they’re just places full of people visiting with no intentions of ever staying longer than their budget or all-inclusive plan will last. Plus, you know that sooner than later you’ve got to climb back onto a plane and come home again. And no one really lives for longer than 2 weeks in these places. With that many tourists continually arriving, especially the bright white-skinned crazy Canucks, really, who’d want to endure all that?
So here’s where I made my mistake and my view of winter changed, likely forever: two and a half years ago, I took a trip with my wife to Sydney, Australia, to attend a conference. It was actually our first day of summer when we traveled there, so when we landed, it was their first day of winter. But when I stepped out of Sydney airport, in June, into the crisp cold air, for the first time ever it came to me that while we’re experiencing summer in Canada, on the other side of the world, they were just starting their winter! Conversely, and much to my dismay, I also realized that while we’re enduring endless weeks of minus temperatures, they are not. It's actually quite the opposite. Not much gets past this blogger’s investigative eyes…
What does this mean? And why should we care? While we’re shoveling snow in the cold with wind-chills that put the temperature into the minus 200-range, people in Australia, whom I mean absolutely no ill-will especially if they'd send me a ticket to come visit sooner than later, are doing this:
And when we’re freezing and our glove-covered hands while scrapping our windshield in the dark, they’re doing this:
It’s gets worse. When our televisions are telling us that if we dare to go outside, our skin will freeze in less than 10 seconds, people in Australia, thinking specifically and only of us are doing this:
Winter is so much less fun now because I now realize that I’m not suffering with the masses - and I don’t have to be because other people aren’t. There are places to go for expanded periods of time - places where you don’t have to wear long johns or ear muffs or tell people where you’re going in case you get stuck somewhere in the middle of nowhere and freeze to death, just because your car ran out of gas or you happened to decide that this day would be a good day to explore a ditch full of snow with your car.
Maybe global warming is going to mess with this one day, but I’m guessing it won’t in the near future, or soon enough for my satisfaction. My only consolation in all of this is to know that while I’m trudging through the snow and risking frost bite, people on the other side of the world are wading through their warm and salty ocean waters, putting themselves in danger of shark bites (hot chocolate does nothing to make that kind of bite feel any better - ha ha!). It’s petty, but it does make me feel at least a little better.
So for the time being, the best I can do is throw on my faux-fur lined parka, extra-insulated gloves and touque, get my car warming up well ahead of heading home in the dark, and then do my best to grin and bare it - or more accurately, bare as little as possible until our spring comes, yet again.