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The winter that was so… unbearable!

We can never be bored as we are always accommodating our weather conditions

By Marylin Smith Carsley

Will it ever end?

Today the weather forecast is predicting an unbearable minus 10 degrees Celsius along with a severe wind chill making it feel more like minus 30 degrees. This exhausting cold trend has been ongoing since our calendars flipped over to 2018.

Oddly for me, the winter season has always been considered to be my ultimate hibernation time as I am frequently forced to remain more sedentary. Spending time outdoors does not tempt me during the colder months and I rarely venture out. There is nothing more soothing and peaceful than curling onto a comfortable couch clad in baggy sweat pants and a sweatshirt, wrapped in a blanket in front of a blazing fireplace. The windows of my home are suddenly transformed into portraits of nature scenes framing the purity of the blanketed outdoor scenery. These visions of the light feathery flakes of snow drifting into artistic sculpted designs evolve into my personal works of art. This time can be so mesmerizingly beautiful, but this particular year that lovely postcard scene has lost its appeal!

This time can be so mesmerizingly beautiful, but this particular year that lovely postcard scene has lost its appeal!

The numerous storms seem to be making a lasting impression and there has been no end in sight to this season. We have been weathering bitter temperatures and the ongoing hardships of moving around the city. We trudge around with heavy coats, boots, scarves, shawls and wool hats trying desperately to keep warm. Parking along snow packed snow banks and climbing over hills to reach the lost sidewalks is enough motivation to keep a person indoors or directed onto a quick flight to a warmer destination. On many occasions I do not possess the stamina to fight the outdoor elements and I believe that ordering what I need is worth it and almost anything can be bought online. Should I need to go out on a blustery day, I dress in my warmest attire; a full length insulated coat with a hood, furry boots and even a heavy scarf masking my face. Necessity reluctantly forces us out but being bundled up makes it somewhat bearable, less fashionable and of course the only way to handle the elements.

Truthfully this is the first year that I have actually complained about winter. Optimistic most of the time, I try to deter myself from negative thinking. In the past I did love this season and all of its activities! I was never a summer person and I have always appreciated endless walks in the snow admiring the frosty beauty and the many varieties of Christmas decorations. Skiing and skating were my favourite pastimes and we were never sheltered indoors from a cold day. Skating was only outdoors at community rinks or at Beaver Lake. We would trudge up to Tremblant, Sutton, and other hills all over Quebec to go skiing. Tobogganing was a thrill for all children and wherever there was a hill to slide down on we went. Even with inadequate snow removal, we were active. Nothing was too much, too cold or too alarming. Winter was part of our Montreal lifestyle and heritage.

So what has happened to our Canadian stamina? Is it laziness or are we spoiled with too many comforts, and too absorbed with the overwhelming technological advances that keep us glued to devices? Are we consumed only with activities that promote that complacent attitude? Have we lost that get up and go incentive?

‘In the past I did love this season and all of its activities!… Nothing was too much, too cold or too alarming. Winter was part of our Montreal lifestyle and heritage.’

The answer is clearly simple. It is just too cold! Okay, getting older may be a part of it for some but the frigid bitterness this year has been overwhelming. Why bother leaving home when you can order everything from your residence? All shopping can be online for everything you need and entertainment is plentiful with all the television channels, Netflix, and other feeds. We can even travel from store to store underground to malls without stepping outdoors so if we can avoid it, why address it?

As I sit here indoors during the final days of this overextended season, I know that we are almost in Spring mode and that snow may soon be a distant memory. For years I would watch people escape from Montreal during the winter months and the idea of leaving never appealed to me. But now I have gained more clarity about this idea as warmer weather does inject an extra shot of energy to brave through the winter months.

‘We have seasons and we are in constant motion keeping up with them as we enjoy all the benefits they display.’

Montreal is a unique place and there are benefits that we forget to acknowledge such as no mudslides, no catastrophic fires resulting from lack of precipitation and no hurricanes. We have other issues to contend with but I would take our problematic hurdles any day before those other calamities. So we just need to bundle up and alter our perspective to realize how fortunate we are to live in a city so diverse and culturally interesting. We have seasons and we are in constant motion keeping up with them as we enjoy all the benefits they display. We can never be bored as we are always accommodating our weather conditions. So as snow is falling on this early March day, I shall grab a blanket and a book and sink into the mood of the surrounding white glory. Hope is very near as the calendar keeps turning and seasons keep changing and we keep wondering if Spring will ever come.

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Image: Andrew Burlone

Read also: The lost art of writing longhand


Marylin Smith Carsley is a Westmount writer whose work has appeared in several publications.  

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