Welcome to my blog today Friends. Today a wonderful Lady ... Karen is my guest writer, also an Expat now living in Canada .....
This is my 12th year in Toronto. Twelve winters will soon be under my belt, so why do I still hate the frigid cold and the blowing snow? Should I by now, not have grown accustomed to a white world filled with frozen moon- clad people slipping and sliding to heated interiors and cursing the weather in the process?
Truth be told, I don't think that someone born and bred under the warmth of the African sun can ever totally fall in love with days like today. Why, even third and fourth generation Canadian colleagues of mine cuss and curse the elements and wish themselves to the Caribbean on such days, so I think a southern hemisphere- born gal can be forgiven for wondering why in the world she is here on a bitter and messy January day. I mean, there really are plenty of places in the world today where folk are not battling to get their cars up a short driveway just to get into a heated box- like house, I am sure.
When I first arrived in Toronto, the approaching winter actually filled me with awe. I could not wait for the first snow fall, to watch my kids building snow people ( we have to be politically correct here!) and to test my endurance for weather I had heard so much about. I was sure that I would survive, like the trouper I give myself credit for being! So, why was I so scared the first time I had to drive in a snowstorm to pick up ( not fetch - that's for dogs!) my little moon people from school?
And, why did I once crawl on my hands and knees down a sharp incline to get to the shops on one other torrid day? Yes, we laugh about it now, and it will become an urban legend in our family, no doubt, but I can tell you, that at the time, I was downright petrified of breaking all my limbs and other body parts on rink- like surfaces, and come to think of it, I still am.Still, winter, back in those early days, was interesting, even sometimes magical and it was rather fun to watch the snow falling from the sky ever so gently to the ground hour after hour from the safety of a townhouse window.
Back then, I marvelled at how life in Toronto moves on, despite the weather and that people go about every day chores just as they do in the summer, just far more padded up and pale- looking. Then, came the snowfall of '99 and the mayor of the time, called in the army to clear the streets of Toronto. It was quite the event of the year, but further east in Montreal, the locals there were splitting their sides with laughter at such a 'woosy city'! They really had no right to do that, as Montrealers, even with more snow than us, have very efficient snow, clearing services.
For some unknown reason, snowstorms still appear to catch Torontonians and their municipalities off guard. I can't understand why, though, as Harold Hussein is such a good weather news reader and he does tell us what to expect. Perhaps folk here think that for some reason, global warming will prove him wrong everytime!It takes just one ice - related traffic accident to knock all the trouper stuffing out of one.
Unfortunately, I had such an experience two years back, and believe me, I now have the greatest respect for those who travel at 20km/h on days when cars should not leave their garages. When you hit a patch of black ice, which is unseen by the human eye on tarmac, your vehicle develops and mind of its own, and you can do nothing, zero, zilch and nada to get it back to where it should be on the road. As it gains momentum in a dance faster than the tango, you pray like you have never prayed before that whatever you hit, will be soft enough not to maim or kill you. Make no mistake, this is a very frightening experience, in fact one I would only wish on terrorists and such like people! I have to tell you, that it takes guts, and I mean real guts, to get yourself back behind the wheel after an incident involving the evil black ice, and when you do venture out again, because you have no choice if you want to earn a living and not be recluse for the remainder of your days, you do so with great trepidation. You never truly get over an ice - related incident, and you join the ranks of so many others who can relate to what you are feeling.
Still, there is something about winter. Something cosy and different. This is a time when you do not have to mow the lawn, or worry about sun block on your exposed limbs, or your fat, hairy legs etc. This is a time when the layers you are bundled under will be your excuse for putting on a few pounds around the middle. This is the time, when you can sit in your family room and marvel at nature as she ices the trees and roofs with whiter- than- Surf soft powdery snow, whilst you sip a glass of red wine, watch a good video or play board games with the kids you never would in the summer months. This is a time to snuggle under your warm duvet and sleep like a baby whilst the softness of the cold, white world around you envelopes the houses in your suburb like a fleecy blanket. This is time for comfort, heartwarming food around a dancing fireplace - for hot chocolate drinks, potatoes and stew, hot breads, minestrone soups and chocolate ( did I mention chocolate before?!). No one eats like Canadians do in winter. After all, we need the extra blubber, just like seals and bears, to see us through until the Spring!
For the energetic and the young, there is skiing and skating and sledding on the non- snow storm days, which can make winter a real blast and empty your pockets quicker than you can say 'snowflake'!So, although frigid, icy blowing days will never be my favourites, I have to accept them as part and parcel of the Canadian experience. I can moan about them and millions will concur with me, but they will return each year to allow me to do so again.
Come the Spring, they will serve to remind me just how diverse nature is and how blessed I am to live in a country with such truly diverse seasons, each with its own special wonderment.
Weather like today's has taught me to treasure every good and bad day and to be grateful for everyone of them.So, when next you hear me complaining about the awful Toronto January weather, remember that I am truly grateful to it for teaching me so much, and allow me my little rant. I mean, I would not be Canadian if I did not allow the weather to get to me!
And to all my well- meaning family and friends back in sunny South Africa or Australia or Florida, please, and I say this with tears in my eyes, do not, and I re-iterate, do not call me and tell me how cold it is in your respective countries and how you are all freezing and shivering at 19C!!!
Wow How is that for a little taste of life in Canada ..... I like Karen's writing, can't wait to read more. Thank you so much for allowing me to post this in my Blog ...to share with others your fine writing and great sense of humour.
See you later! - I'm headed off for my annual sister trip, but will have new posts scheduled to pop up while I'm away, so please check back! (I won't be able to mail any pa...
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