A letter from winter: Let it Go


Rebecka Calderwood is the Arts and Life Editor at The Ryersonian. (Alisha Sawhney / Ryersonian Staff)

Being the most hated season is rough. Summer is praised like a god. Spring plays hard to get. Autumn is the most gorgeous of all. What do I get? Complaints and more complaints.

I have a few faithful lovers that always come back – but mostly because I’m the only one that can bring the extreme temperatures to build ice rinks or ensure there’s fresh powder around. Then there are the yo-yos that can’t make up their mind about me. Then there are, of course, the life-long haters. I can’t please them even on the sunniest of days.

If you don’t know who I am, well, I’m coming for you. I’m winter.

I come back every year whether you like it or not. I can’t ensure everyone is well equipped for me, so I leave that up to you. You should know that by now. I know Canadians talk about me all the time, especially in November, when I can’t make up my mind when to stick around. On Nov. 18, senior climatologist Dave Phillips of Environment Canada reported that out of all Canadian cities, Winnipeggers give the most online hits to their website. I guess that explains why a Manitoba native wrote this.

Since she moved to Ontario three years ago, she’s noticed some changes in the attitude towards me. There are a lot more consistently negative comments. She always thought Manitobans had a stronger backbone for cold winters. School snow days didn’t exist unless the ‘feels like’ value (with the wind chill) was -55 and snowplows were out way before the sun. The first sign of snow flurries in downtown Toronto, however, has people heading for Twitter asking if there will be a snow day at -15 C. Yet, Winnipeg was colder than the North Pole last year.

CBC Manitoba meteorologist John Sauder knows all about me. But, he’s optimistic that Canadians can adapt to me, no matter how long it may take.“Someone from the northern part of the country is going to adapt much easier, faster,” said Sauder in an email. “Someone from Windsor, Ont., or  Vancouver perhaps will take a little more time to adapt to the cold.”

I guess we can’t single out any top contenders for which region has the coldest winters in Canada, even if Manitobans do like to brag about the amount of cold they can handle.
“Geography has a lot to do with how well we adapt,” Sauder said. “For instance, in Winnipeg we know that we need to cover our skin or risk frostbite in extreme conditions. However, it’s a dry cold so as long as we are dressed properly, we should be OK.”

But things are different for southern Ontario.“If it’s cold and there’s a little moisture due to the open lakes, it feels that much colder,” he said.

Even I can’t predict how I’ll act this year. Can you predict when you’ll have a good or bad day and where you’ll be? Sauder says a small change in a global weather pattern in November can make a huge difference in how I act. Historically, he says, Newfoundland always gets hit hard this time of the year. This becomes a great challenge for the inhabitants as they have to survive the harsh conditions. Sauder puts the situation into perspective.

“They were smacked with a 30-centimetre snow storm every seven days … Oceans provide a ton of moisture for that to happen and if there is cold air from the north interacting with that moisture … look out!”

I know many Canadians are guilty of complaining about me at times, whether they’re having a bad day, forget an umbrella at home or lose a mitten on the street. But unless you’re a newborn, stop complaining. We’ve been through this.Ultimately, you decide how cold you want to be – not me. They don’t make Canada Goose jackets or Sorels for nothing. And need I remind you of the Canadian company that began with natives trading high-value furs when I came around?

The Hudson’s Bay Company didn’t thrive on furs because it was always summer.I’m not saying go out and buy an expensive fur coat. But put layers on, dress warm … do anything but complain.
If history, ancestry or stubbornness won’t stop your complaints, maybe the holidays will.

After all, what would the holiday season be without snow on the ground? What would those hot cups of cocoa in your favourite mug be like without me? How about having that cocoa while wrapped in a cozy blanket? Nobody would like your Instagram post without my atmosphere as a backdrop.
If you’re still not convinced about how I’m not bad, just know it could be worse.

Cheer up – there are better things to worry about than how many layers of clothing you have to wear. Unless I’m having a really bad day and decide to put your life in danger, know that I’m only here once a year. Make the most out of it. Maybe I’ll use my powers to help you miss that dreaded final exam, get you snowed in at a cottage with your crush or give you a romantic candlelit evening that takes you away from electricity for the night. That’s tweet-worthy.

Be smart – stay warm and stay safe on the roads when I’m around. Learn to embrace me. I am winter. And you are Canadian.

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