Yesterday morning, the local weatherman welcomed me to -16 (did you see that MINUS sign, my tropical friends?), that, thanks to a wind chill factor of a gazillion or so, sinks that reading down to a not-so-balmy -27. I tucked myself deeper down under/into/below my feathery duvet and hoped that it was just a bad dream. Then I heard it again. Another of this city’s epic blisteringly winter days.
I poked my head out into the cooler-than-normal bedroom air – and my nose went numb. In my mind, I quickly rifled through every Canadian grade school student’s textbook directory of mid-winter excuses: I have a cold…I have temperature… I can’t breathe… I’m going to get frost bite!
Nothing doing: Yesterday, I HAD to go outside. So I began the lengthy process of getting dressed: leggings, camisole, long-sleeved shirt, t-shirt, fleece, jeans, uber-thick wool socks. Even wearing the maximum number of layers – without looking like Mrs Goodyear – I’m nervous at the prospect of exposing my skin to the inescapably wintry Elements.
But I never signed up for this…. this… this version of Dante’s inferno: Freakish cold. Parched skin. Perpetually stuffed nose. Chapped lips. Ears burning from the chill. Eyelashes sticking to each other, threatening to birth icicles. I wrap myself up from head to toe, with hardly an inch of skin exposed and STILL the frost slices right through.
Imagine standing inside a meat packing freezer (ok, minus the dangling carcasses) – already cold! – when someone points a blowtorch at your face, cranks it up and instead of flames of heat spewing out, you’re almost blown to bits by gusts of icy air that hit your face, bypassing tightly knitted clothing, covering you with the kind of cold that should be cracking glass.
Through the slit that separates the bottom of my baseball cap and top of my scarf, I spot an illustration of a woman on the side of a mailbox, her head partly wrapped up in a scarf. That image makes me wonder whether anyone has thought to design a down-filled niqab for the many Muslim women in this city; a surefire way to shelter themselves from the forceful winds. At which point I realize that I must be falling into a hallucinatory fog.
It’s supposed to be spring. Ya right. In spring, snow thaws. Flowers bloom. Grass grows.
Right now, wrapped in sweatpants, hoodie and socks, I’m longing for where the grass is growing, now and always, greener.. on the other side (of the world).