On Becoming Canadian

I’ve become Canadian. By that, I don’t mean that I’ve acquired Canadian citizenship, begun enjoying universal healthcare and ice hockey, started bragging about how much bigger Canadian grizzlies are than American ones or how much better Molson’s is than Miller’s. And so on. Rather, it’s just that I have become blasé about the cold weather that has been gripping the US East Coast this winter. And saying things like “This is such a beautiful day” on days when the temperature is just above freezing point.

There was a time, not so long ago, when temperatures below the freezing point were conversation-worthy and worth dressing up for. The thermometer would drop below 32F–or 0 C as we Canadians like to put it–and I would hasten to wear a pair of long-johns before heading out for the day. Hat and gloves were, needless to say, de rigeur. And on arriving at my destination, I would make sure to say something like “Damn, its freezing out there.” The roaring twenties induced this sort of reaction in me all too easily; the teens, ever so rare, provoked adjectives that were rather more extravagant.

But this winter, the twenties and the teens have been all too common, almost as common as the many, many snowflakes that have come drifting down from the heavens.  And indeed, so have single-digit temperatures. (Dropping as low as 2F or -19C at one point.) I know residents of the American Midwest and the great Canadian plains will snicker at this city slicker dropping these piddling temperatures about him like badges of pride. But trust me; I know why you feel that way now.

For now, I find myself increasingly unfazed by the cold. I don’t wear long-johns any more; I’ve just become used to a pair of frozen lower extremities. (Please don’t be distracted by the double entendre.) Hats and gloves, common accessories for the twenties, are now only so for the teens. And I hardly ever talk about the weather. (I just blog about it. The fact that the weather has made it to this blog should perhaps indicate that I’ve run out of things to say. That may be so.)

In this new, complacent-about-the-cold state, many deep thoughts occur to me: Is it true that cold is just relative? That man can get used to just about anything? (Nietzsche did say once that man could tolerate anything so long as he knew the ‘why’ of it. I have to admit that the technical details of this year’s cold snap, which involve depressing news about the melting of the Arctic ice cap, its effect on ocean currents, the jet stream, and masses of cold air sitting on Siberia, have certainly made this year’s cold comprehensible.) Will privation make me appreciate abundance? (That is, will this year’s spring or summer seem especially salubrious?)

I’ll admit that I don’t know the answers to these profound inquiries. I do know that the Niagara Falls are prettier on the Canadian side, that Wayne Gretzky is the greatest, and that everything tastes better with maple syrup.

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