Boy, I’m getting tired of winter. Even the snow bunnies seem to have less sparkle in their colored contacts these days.
I miss walking the most. It doesn’t seem to have the same satisfaction combined with the Northern expedition – hands buried deep in pockets, back curved into a semi-fetal position, parka hoods drawn forward (no wonder polar bears can sneak right up on Inuit hunters), feet shuffling as fast as they can trying to grip the icy sidewalk, and head down against the wind.
I’m also going rather stir crazy. The most common pastime I engage in is “warming up the car”. People seem to try unusual things to break the boredom during the long winter months. They start new hobbies. They learn new games. They attempt new sports. They look at things with an overly negative eye.
I suspect it was midwinter blues that triggered the adverse reaction to the camel on Camel cigarettes. What was going through the minds of the public when they decided the cool humpback smoker had a face like… well, like another body part? I suspect it was the same boredom and long, dark days that recently caused an outcry against Nestle. It seems their palm tree symbol is as suggestive as the addicted camel. Upside down that is. What I want to know is this. Did the woman who complain store packages upside down in the cupboard and stumble upon this nutty resemblance when she went to make cocoa? Or, in the stir crazy mind set of a long winter nights, did she try yoga for the first time and gain a new perspective on fruit trees?
At this time of the year, those of us who are not snowbirds often wonder why we live here. I can’t answer that. I’m still trying to figure out why I bought the same kind of vehicle twice when the first one drove me crazy. Surviving a winter like this one, though, does give us a commonality, a shared trauma as such, much like living through an thunder storm that lasts for months. It also encourages us to take stock of things, like emergency flares and whether job security is worth having to climb through the car hatch because all the doors have frozen shut, again.
Friendly readers often comment on my columns, but the quiz on “Are You a Northerner?” seemed to to hit a responsive chord with many. A few women suggested I could dig into the more feminine aspects of being a Northerner since most of the questions pertained to men. There’s nothing like positive feedback to fuel the engine. So, here are a few more you can add to your list. You know you’re a northern Ontarion when…
- Sixty percent of the labels on your clothing contain the words “warm to 30 below”.
- You master walking in high heels on carpeting when you’re 11, tile floors when you’re 12, and snow when you’re 13.
- All your foot wear is two-tone: black and salt, navy and salt, brown and salt, and red and salt.
- You sign up for midwinter exercise classes to get you out of the house on those long, dark, depressing winter evenings and then missed the first two because it is too cold to go out, go to the third, and then decide you are too far behind everyone else to continue.
- You have a sign over your kitchen sink that reads, “You catch ’em, you clean ’em.”
- Half of your friends have more vowels in their names than consonants.
- You play on a mix baseball team sponsored by a sports store at which you never shop and a mixed curling team sponsored by a tavern at which you are known by your first name.
- You sign up for a hockey pool at work and at your favorite bar and feel physically ill when you forget to play your numbers in the lottery.
- You’ve owned at least one vehicle that had holes hidden below the floor mat through which you could watch the highway flash past.
- You always pronounce “sauna” correctly.
- You think there is too much stick handling in hockey.
- You order your garden seeds, all beginning with the words “Quick Grow” three months before planting.
- You’ve actually eaten, but more probably drank, a food product made from dandelions.
- You know the difference between a fiddlehead and a conehead.
- You know how to put chains on winter tires, even when they’re moving.
Chronicle-Journal/Times-News, February 13, 1994