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Wintering wrongly 

Lezlie Lowe discovers the gene pool is frozen.



You know exactly how I’m feeling---call it the February blahs or the winter blues. It’s that feeling like you’re not going to make it to the other end of this minus-a-million degree tunnel; when cutesy ads featuring American Eagle models frolicking in synthetic snow are an affront.

Three weeks back, Shubenacadie Sam had the temerity to beetle out of his house and tell us spring was six weeks hence. No one has the strength to believe him.

February is the pits. It’s when you’re convinced your genes are going to be deleted from the pool because your plans this evening are to eat what you can scrounge out of the cupboard, stare forlornly out the window at the biting air for 8.3 minutes and then collapse in your clothes on the sofa. Dying. Probably.

The credit for that last bit goes to my friend Luchuk, who came to Halifax to attend Dal and insisted every winter for the duration of his studies he was going to be selected out. In the Darwinian sense.

It’s not that Luchuk’s a wuss. He’s from Montreal, where the winter wind burns your lungs like a poorly dragged-on joint. Winter is relentless and crushing in Quebec and Ontario. But that’s exactly why it’s so much worse here.

Nova Scotians have a perverse relationship with winter. We deny it’s coming, deny it’s here, complain, complain, complain...

Oh. Sorry. I just took a deep breath there and sort of zoned out. What was I saying? Right. Yeah. We can’t embrace winter because of our fair-weather weather.

In central Canada, if you lose a mitten in the snow, you find it in April. Here, you lose the mitt, see it poking out of a bank two weeks later, hold off on grabbing it because of the rain, and then lose it again under a foot of new snow. And repeat. All winter.

Our fickle weather’s got us denying winter. And when Jack Frost hauls off and smacks us in the face with his cold, hard, 100 km-an-hour fist? When we can no longer pretend? We deny still.

We don’t bother organizing outdoor winter festivals. We have too few public skating spots. No one snowshoes and barely anyone cross-country skis. I would be surprised to learn that there is a winter tourism strategy in Nova Scotia.

The result? Complete despair come the third week of February (which is when sensible provinces are in the midst of some kind of fantastic Winterlude or at least basking in the temporary respite of some freebee stat holiday. Diana Whalen: can you work it a little harder on the other MLAs for this Joe Howe Day you’ve been promising?).

Haligonians can’t even dress forthe winter.

Sunday morning. 9:15am. Minus 12 degrees with the wind chill. There’s a woman walking along the base of Citadel Hill. Waist-belted mid-calf tweed coat. Uggs. Louis Vuitton-style big bag. (What I’m getting at here is that she was clearly able to accessorize.) But no hat and no scarf. Her ears were the colour of persimmons. Lingering a moment longer, I suspect I might have seen frost on her collarbone.

In cities where citizens accept winter---cities much colder, generally, than Halifax---people take appropriate measures to stave off hypothermia. In Ottawa, people wear big-ass fur coats and fur hats and monster-sized boots and sheepskin mittens. They don’t think twice about mussing up their hair.

Ottawaians would merrily ram their bodies inside gutted tauntauns, like Han Solo did to Luke Skywalker when he was freezing on the snow plains of the planet Hoth, if only they could successfully navigate the city that way.

Here, people don’t bother buttoning up their jean jackets. But then maybe that’s because it’s minus 10 and they’ve all left the house without mittens and their fingers are frozen into rigid little claws.

And parking? Other cities strategize to fit both cars and snow banks on the streets. They ban parking on one side one night and the other side the next. When the cars are out of the way they shave the banks. Some idiot forgets? Towed and impounded! Easy.

In the world of Halifax parking, snow is treated like a goddamn natural disaster: one flake too many and our parking overlords declare a moratorium.

The snow’s here---by Shubenacadie Sam’s calculation---for another three weeks. Time to bundle up and go cavort. It might be the only thing that’ll keep our Haligonian genes in the pool for another year.

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