Sometimes, I run across an expression that,
even though it is grammatically correct, I just don’t understand. “ I love winter” is one of them.
Whenever anyone says this, I nod indulgently, but my brain refuses to process the information. “ Love” and “ winter” seem like diametrically opposed concepts. Putting them together is akin to saying “ exciting committee meeting” or “ delicious lima beans.” The individual words make sense, but the phrase does not.
I understand “ respecting” winter. In fact, I show my respect by digging out my monumental collection of hats, scarves, mittens, electric blankets, down-filled coats, space heaters and long underwear as soon as the mercury drops below 10 degrees.
And I comprehend “ fearing” winter. It is, after all, the season that brings us weather events with nicknames like “ Snowmageddon.” You very rarely hear about “ Bloompocalypse” in spring. And, to my knowledge, falling leaves have never incapacitated most of central Canada’s hydro system.
But “ loving” winter? I don’t get it. For most of my adult life, I’ve approached the season like a patient headed for a root canal.
This fall, however, I began questioning that approach. Sure, it makes sense if you live in Victoria, where winter often consists solely of a week of frost. But in Ottawa, where the first snow this year fell before Halloween, hating the outdoors for five straight months isn’t quite rational.
Each year, I crawl out of my self-imposed cocoon sometime in March like a bat blinking its way into sunlight. My bones ache, my middle is decidedly thicker and I’m crabby. Really, really crabby.
It didn’t used to be this way. In university, I often skated from Carleton to the Rideau Centre, and I felt great. As a child, I’d charge gleefully into the backyard to make snowmen, forts and angels.
When did I stop playing in winter and start hating it? Probably around the same time I stopped writing purely for fun and trying to learn guitar. Around the time, in other words, I decided to “ grow up.”
A few weeks ago, I was listening on my iPod to an interview with cartoonist Lynda Barry. With a laugh, she referred to “ everything we call ‘ the arts’ and children call ‘ play.’” The expression stopped me in my tracks.
I recently started learning to paint and create collages— two artsy things I haven’t done since Brownie camp. And I’m enjoying every minute of it. So perhaps this is the year to keep relearning how to play by falling in love with winter again. Maybe this year I’ll skate on the canal more than once during the season. Maybe I’ll walk to the park and build a snowman. Or maybe— it’s best to start slowly— it will be enough to look out the window at newly-fallen snow and think “ Oh, how pretty” instead of “ Oh rats, time to shovel the front walk.”
How hard can loving winter be? After all, a child can do it.