Sunday 4 December 2011

Sacrifice a Virgin

I went for a walk today and it was magical.

Oh it was cold and most people hadn’t shovelled their walks, but that is part of what made it magical. Unlike the summertime, or those parts of Canada (very few) and places in the world blessed with warm climates year round, in Calgary you have to give some thought to the whole process of walking out of your front door. In sub zero weather it is important to consider the temperature outside and the number of layers that you will wear when you go.

I saw a woman the other day in flip flops for god’s sake! The snow was about six inches deep! The same day I saw a man in shorts and a t-shirt walking from his car to the coffee shop. These people might not be stupid, but I wouldn’t place a wager on their sanity. The way I see it, anytime that skin can freeze, then it should be covered up with a layer of cloth, fur or in my case, a house with central heating.

I wore a winter jacket, boots, and wool dickie, toque and leather gloves. There was no sense in pulling out the big guns until it gets really cold, minus thirty and lower. The minute that I stepped out the door I took a breath of that frigid air and could feel it go right into my lungs. There is something so very clean about cold air. Perhaps dirt, dust, pollution and all of the other crap we breathe in on a daily basis just can’t stay aloft in real cold air. I took the first few steps and adjusted my clothing to cover the cold spots that became apparent pretty quickly. I noticed the quiet right away. I suppose that the snow acts as a sound dampener of sorts, or maybe no one in their right mind ventures out in the cold if they don’t have to. I could hear myself breathing in and out and I swear that I could also hear my heart beating. The sound of my boots on the snow made a squeaking sound that I am told the movie prop guys duplicate with bags of corn starch. It is a pretty cool sound that lets you know in no uncertain terms that it is indeed cold out and you should take off those shorts and the fucking flip flops!

Whenever I am out in this kind of weather, I am comforted by the fact that a warm place is close by and it is more than likely I will soon be sitting with a hot drink in my hand looking out at the smoke from my neighbour’s chimneys. I don’t think it is smoke so much as heat, but perhaps I should look into that.

I usually begin to think about our ancestors and how they would have survived in this weather without central heating, or even the Inuit of the far north. Crazy bastards! When I say ancestors, I don’t mean the Greek branch, but the insane English ones that decided to go and seek their fortunes in Canada.

My wife’s ancestors settled in the Canadian prairies and built themselves sod houses. There is a story about a couple who went to bed in the winter and when they awoke the next morning their cat was frozen solid. Don’t get me wrong, this is an anecdote about the cold, not one to create pity for the cat. Oh, go ahead if you are a cat person, but let’s agree that it must have been damned cold.

I like the cold. In the last few years I have liked the idea of cold more that the actual cold. I like the idea of warm too and actually like the warm. The way I see it now, the indigenous peoples of Hawaii are way smarter than the indigenous peoples of Canada’s arctic waste. Well, except for that whole sacrifice a virgin in the volcano idea. That is just stupid and quite frankly a waste.

Staying cool in Calgary

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