In praise of winter

Like an old god’s curse, winter has descended once more. The northern half of the province at least has the pleasantries of snow—that innocent pillow stuffing that smooths out the sharp corners and hides the ugly bits. But in Victoria, snow means spillage from the world’s largest dirt-flavoured Slurpee. That’s if we’re lucky. Usually it’s just rain and a venomous wet cold.

Winter is as an excuse to go to Mexico, you say. I say, screw that! Winter is the best, and I’d gladly toss the knife to it in a death-match against the other seasons. I’d support the coup that would see it reign all year.

Before you tie your best boy scout knot and slip the noose around my neck, let me explain myself. I’ll list the obvious points. The comparative argument: a hopeful ray of sun needs a concrete slab of cloud to punch through; for a warm summer day you need a cold winter’s morning to stand in contrast. The “Act of God” argument: winter increases the chance of a class-cancelling storm right before that paper is due. The TV marathon excuse: not showering or leaving your couch feels so much more justifiable when it’s crap outside. The sporting traditions: road trips to [insert ski hill here] or bellowing Luongo’s name at your TV screen are options.

All of these are standard. But the best result of any miserable weather is our human reaction to it: a bad storm drives us into one another’s arms. When Typhoon Haiyan reminded us that we’re all just apes with delusions of grandeur, on an uncaring rock, we reacted with an outpouring of aid. Winter humbles us in a similar way.

For example, during last week’s cold snap, a woman bundled up to her eyes gave free hugs in front of the library for no apparent reason. These things do not happen in summer when warmth is in glut. Neither do food hampers. Even Christmas›s glassy-eyed consumerism makes me smile because fundamentally it’s an excuse to pile love on one another, even if only the material-sort.

Fellow humans are much more precious when Nature is trying to expunge us like bacteria. When rain lashes our windows, we find comfort in a cup of hot chocolate with a friend, or a beer in a noisy pub. We crowd around the fire, or the yule log channel.

I am not saying don’t complain (though this city does have the mildest winter in the whole province). By all means, complain away. But don’t complain at people; complain with them. Revel in how miserable the sleet is. Share your umbrella at the bus stop. Make soup for your lab partner and nest with your lover underneath the duvet. Don’t have any friends? Winter’s misery is the greatest icebreaker. Next time you’re in the law library and feeling lonely, smile and loudly proclaim this Canadianism: Fuck it’s cold, eh?!

You will get a reaction, I promise.

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