by Lakshmi Sadhu
Nothing can ever prepare you for your first encounter with snow. The delicious visual feast and the sensation of crushing freshly fallen snow in your palms is an experience unlike any other. The first time I ever saw, and touched, snow was in Hokkaido, Japan. That was over nine years ago. While Japan was a memorable holiday for a variety of reasons, it was most memorable because it was the first time I saw snow.
Naturally, when I decided to come to Canada for university, I was excited at the prospect of living in a country where on average it snowed five months in a year, where temperatures actually went below zero degrees. After all, I grew up in a country where the only season we essentially had all year round was “hot”, and where a mere 20 degrees was enough to inaugurate sweater weather.
Even the idea of wearing coats with fur-lined hoods and beanies with cute pom-poms was thrilling. What I failed to account for, however, in all my enthusiastic naivety, was just how horrifically cold Canadian winters are. I also failed to consider just how physiologically and psychologically unprepared I was for winter.
For the winter newbie, I now present the five stages of winter:
Your initial amazement at the delicate flurries that shrouded the Torontonian sky back in November has now been replaced by shock and horror at the bleached and frigid world around you. Your extremities are perpetually frozen, there are icicles hanging from your eyelashes, and you can’t remember the last time you were able to feel your face (which, by the way, is drying up faster than your motivation). Your first painful face plant on an icy walkway is enough to trigger an existential crisis.
When you realise what you signed yourself up for you go numb, quite literally, thanks to the minus 17 wind chill blowing right through you. When even the sun begins to frequent you a little less each day, you begin to wonder if and how you can possibly go on with your life.
Denial is quickly replaced by anger. You berate yourself for ever wanting to study in such a cold country. You begin to blame everything and everyone – global warming, Donald Trump, your parents for not telling you better, your useless $500 winter jacket, the government, God, your 9 a.m. class, your 9 p.m. class, really just any class that requires you to step back out into the freezing cold.
Anger slowly gives way to bargaining. You plead with the higher powers of the universe; statements like, “if it doesn’t snow tomorrow morning, I promise to donate money every week to charity” or “I’ll never again complain about how hot summer is”, become increasingly common. You’ve reached a stage where you’ll do anything to make this wintry madness cease.
This is the most tragic part of the five stages of winter. Commonly referred to as the “winter blues”. It’s dark outside when you’re eating breakfast, and equally dark when you’re having dinner. You may or may not google pictures of flowers and beaches during this phase. The disappearance of the sun, and the generally gloomy, colourless environment is enough to make you want to just stay in your bed until winter ends.
Congratulations, you’ve finally made peace with winter! You begin to appreciate and enjoy all the activities that you can’t do during the rest of the year, like ice-skating, snowboarding, sledding, having snowball fights and, of course, drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate which, let’s be honest, tastes even better when it’s super chilly outside.
Stay warm and bundled up, folks! What are some of your pet peeves about winter? 🙂