Heavy Artillery Mittens

Yes, it’s cold here like everywhere north of the south, and when the weather is this cold, it appears to be actually interesting to talk about. I am fond of telling people that it got down to -40 when I interviewed for this job and I actually liked it. I stayed over the weekend and went for a walk around the underground city, but ran out of space and surfaced above ground a couple blocks west of St. Laurent on St. Catherine. Nice neighborhood, I know. Anyway, I started walking and at first it was brisk and then my face started freezing and I felt stupid. I ducked into a coffeeshop, then I caught a cab to my destination.

When we didn’t live here, there was something bracing about visiting Minnesota over winter break. We’d get out of the airport and there would be that first blast of cutting cold, and I knew I was finally home. That razor-like air is part of the landscape, part of what it means to be in a place. But it’s nicer when you get a little taste of it and then get back out of it.

Last night I visited some friends for dinner (Carrie is alas down for the count with bronchitis, but will be back in effect soon thanks for some good drugs from the doctor; codeine cough syrup: another reason to love Canada) and had a similar experience. Their place was a few blocks from a coffee shop and I thought it would be an easy walk. Everything is slower in the cold. Much, much slower. The first couple blocks were fine. But then suddenly it felt like wherever I turned, I was walking into the wind. I had the full-on winter armor too. The heavy artillery mittens (why are military metaphors so appealing for extreme weather clothing?) weren’t even cutting it. About four blocks into it, I was a guy walking by me with an SAQ bag and HE WASN’T WEARING GLOVES. His hands looked human but they could not have been. Finally, I make the turn onto their street and walk up the hill. What should have been a 10-15 minute walk turned into a saga where I felt like I’d been left for dead on an ice floe. My friends greeted me at their door and informed me that at that moment, it was colder in Montreal than at the north pole. I didn’t care if it was actually true. It was emotionally true.

Later, on the way home, I paid good money for door-to-door cab service.