Weather is a Factor
The last two months have either been incredibly boring, or incredibly busy and exciting, both options yielding the same result: no blogging from me. I apologize. I have not made a New Year’s Resolution (or, as my sister called it, a “New Year’s Revolution”) to blog more. I’ve posted about that before. Anyway, Happy 2008! I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas season. Are you now fighting the January blues? I mean, what is there to look forward to now? Wow… I need some vitamin D.
I had a wonderful two weeks off to celebrate Christmas in Alberta, and we got to see all of our three families. There was a lot of visiting, hanging out, relaxing, skating, and snow. We managed to eat four turkey dinners, and turkey sandwiches in the days between. There was actually a lot of crazy stuff that happened over the holiday, but it was all kind of bad with leukemia, death, depression, temper tantrums, bad-mannered boyfriends, and a broken knee thrown in for good measure. There were also lots of laughs, good movies, friendly faces, fires, and card games.
It was so good to be back. It was so cold, it was thrilling! There, the weather is an adversary, and you literally try to run away from the cold and get indoors before it seeps into the bone. We parked a block and a half away from our friend Mark’s apartment, and started walking towards his front door. After about 10 steps, we retreated back to the car to try to find a closer parking spot. Jeff further tortured us by not letting us in immediately after we buzzed. “It’s cold here, isn’t it?” he said while we did the cold feet shuffle, panting, eagerly anticipating the warmth of the indoors with every stiff fiber of our being.
I have this notion that when choosing a winter coat, an Albertan will say, “I don’t care what colour it is, is it warm?” whereas a Vancouverite will say, “I don’t care how warm it is, is it a current recognizable designer label?”
In Grande Prairie, someone discovered a dead coyote near a road, obviously road kill. Since in Grande Prairie you make your own fun, these people proceeded to prop it up on a bus bench, sitting up, with its head leaning against the back with its tongue hanging out, and its tail hanging down. That is Alberta: rough, and not afraid to touch a carcass.
I have been reading “The Garneau Block,” a novel Jason gave me for Christmas, which has even further enhanced my feelings of nostalgia towards Edmonton, and Albertan life in general. It is a work of fiction about a University neighbourhood in Edmonton, and all of the landmarks and settings are real. It is about residents of the block who plan to convert one of their houses into a museum in the shape of a giant buffalo head, symbolic of how we destroyed the nature that could have sustained us, symbolic of the rural/urban dichotomy, and how we are searching for Mythic Power. Uh, yeah, right. (I think the author shares my opinion on this – it’s a comedy.) It's not the best book I've ever read, but it is really reminding me of Edmonton, and it describes things about the city that I always understood, but had never put into words. I especially like how the author not only describes the sights of the city, he also describes the smells, and it makes me feel powerfully connected to the story simply because I have lived there, and, I must admit, I miss living there (well, the summers, at least). One of my favourite conversations in the book is between a husband and wife shopping for a hybrid:
“Sweetheart, if we buy a Japanese car we’ll just make elitists of ourselves, alienate our own people, drive them to Hemis.”
“David, please, we don’t have a people. We’re Canadians.”
I often think about Canadian culture, and what it is. To me, it is pretty much indefinable. Maybe it can be defined by the 2010 Olympic mascots?
Amidst all of these warm fuzzies for my former home, I have a confession. Vancouver weather is absolutely lovely. After spending two weeks hiding from the cold, we came home to Vancouver and went for an evening stroll around English Bay without jackets because it was + 9. The lights of North Van are beautiful at night when they reflect off of the ocean. Here, my back muscles do not tense when I step outside, my snot does not freeze and send icicles shooting down my throat, my thighs do not burn from the cold, my earrings don’t freeze, and my glasses do not fog up.