When we made our decision to emigrate to Quebec neither I nor my husband had ever set foot in Canada. We realised winter would be a tad colder than we were used to in Normandy and we sincerely hoped the summers would be warmer. We were not disappointed.
Our first reconnaissance mission took place in January 2011. Our thinking went along the lines of “If we like it in January we’ll love it the rest of the year”. We laugh now when we think about the moment we landed in Montreal for the first time and the pilot announced the outside temperature was -10ºC – there was a sharp intake of breath and mild panic – Did we bring enough clothes? Can you go outside when it’s so cold? Will our eyes freeze? Little did we realise that was going to be the warmest day of our stay which hit a low of -32ºC . Talk about a steep learning curve.
We were warned by many people that the winter can feel long so our policy has been to embrace it : skiing, skating, tobogganing, inner-tubing, Christmas in a chalet, the kids have caught the hockey bug and we even tried curling. Admittedly I find it helps that it is often gloriously sunny and the sky is fantastically blue – even if your eyes are streaming and the inside of your nose has gone all prickly because the tiny hairs freeze instantly the second you breathe in.Throwing ourselves into winter has been great fun and we still have things on our to-do list like dog-sledding, cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing which means even though we’re just pulling out of this winter we’re already looking forward to the next one.
So thanks to advice from new-found friends, books and internet forums we’ve successfully managed to negotiate two Canadian winters and the only thing we’re left wondering about is WHY THE BLOODY HELL NOBODY MENTIONED APRIL ?
If ever there was a month that you need to prepare for it’s this one – both practically and psychologically. Here’s a screenshot from a couple of weeks ago :
One balmy evening I was sitting on my balcony in a T-shirt, with my son asking if I could put the air-conditioning on and 24 hours later I was watching a snowstorm out of the window. Not only does weather like this require serious planning (– what on earth do you wear on a day that starts out at 1ºC and hits 12ºC a few hours later with snow thrown in?) but it plays havoc with your state of mind. As much as you can embrace winter the prospect of Spring (particularly this year) is exciting and lifts the spirits. It therefore seems doubly cruel that you get a taster of life without thermals and then it’s just as quickly snatched away. It’s also really, really ugly everywhere. The dirty snowbanks slowly melt away to leave tonnes of rubbish blowing around, a grit and dog poo combo that requires athletic negotiation at every turn, dead grass and leafless trees.
Then just when you think you can’t take any more a switch is flipped and it’s over. The roads and pavements are swept clean and I swear if you stand in front of a tree you could actually watch the leaves grow it happens so fast. And before you know it? – everyone will be moaning about how unbearably hot it is. I can’t wait.