Winter is coming

Snowy street in Halifax

“Winter is coming.”

I cannot count how many times I’ve heard this refrain, flavoured by ominous intonations of dread, liberally borrowed from “The House of Stark” and John Snow.

But it’s been a lot.

It happens most often when I’m wearing my rose-coloured glasses, waxing poetic on the beautiful new-to-me city I live in to anyone with ears, and from Haligonians and Ontarions alike. Inevitably, either a sinister cackle or a few somber seconds of reverential silence follow the statement, and what goes through my head is… “Oi!”

“Winter is coming.”

I am trying to figure out if Haligonians are warning me of my impending doom and that I must prepare now, while I can, or if it is evidence of an incorrect mythology that Ontario winters are either better or more enjoyable. And of my Ontario friends—I wonder if the chant might be an ill-conceived, albeit unconscious, attempt to lure me back to the sea-less province, before I am ready to return.

I don’t know yet.

What I do know is that in Ontario my outdoor winter time was limited to the unavoidable moments, slogging from car door to place and then back home again, punctuated with the occasional exception, when it was neither bitterly cold nor precipitating a bizarre mix of snow, ice or rain, and I could actually do something outside.

Can it really be that different here?

Course, I guess I don’t have a garage, as I did in my Ontario home, in which to stow my wheels and not have to clear the snow off it before driving, as well as to limit treks outside to get into the car during the dreaded winter.

“Winter is coming.”

I do believe, however, that I am well prepared for whatever is to come.

My lineage is Jamaican. I am one mere generation removed from the island of my ancestors. And because I was born and raised in Canada, technically, I should be used to winter. But then there is the biological reality of the close to four centuries worth of DNA coursing through my veins and in every cell of my body, preprogrammed for sun, sand and sea.

I’ve had to adjust to winter since birth, but I’ve found ways to get through it.

Winter in my world is pasta season… and bread season… and all things casserole, not to mention frenzied experimental baking season, with a heavy emphasis on sweet. Incessant kitchen use generates a hub of constant warmth, a temporary sun shall I say, in a room populated by a continuous sea of people. (Sea + Sun… check… just missing the sand.)

Winter is also avoid-the-cold time, requiring creative strategies that allow for hunkering in, staying warm, and growing a layer of extra padding on the body, whether by blanket or calorie count. That translates to eating, knitting, painting, Netflix, book group and reading time.

Actually, a simpler term would be hibernation.

“Winter is coming.”

I say bring it on Halifax. I have my survival plan at the ready.

In my teeny flat, the oven activity will replace the two fireplaces left behind, warming my 500 square feet. I will spin out cooking and baking creations to both lure people in and generate content for the cookbook my son’s girlfriend, Sara, and I have dreamt up.

I don’t have to drive anywhere. Living in the downtown core, I can walk as little as a half a block or as much as a kilometer, weather permitting, to get food supplies. Worse case scenario, I simply walk approximately twenty steps to my new favourite restaurant, Edna’s, and skip the arduous grocery mission altogether, for as long as my bank account will provide. My car can stay buried in the predicted mountains of snow until Spring if I so choose.

I am equipped with serious, warm boots, and top to toe winter padding, including balaclava. I say again, bring it on Halifax.

Winter is coming.”

Oh, right. One more thing.

I forgot to mention… I am off to Toronto the last week in January, and from there, I am going to Jamaica for research purposes, and then visiting my BFF, Leslie, at her new digs in the Cayman Islands. I should be home in March… maybe April.

Hmmmmm… not sure how that might affect my acclimatization, but I will be sure to write a post from each destination to provide updates on how I am making it through the Halifax winter trials and tribulations.

“Winter is coming.”

What’s that Halifax? I can’t hear you.

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