How to Survive a Canadian Winter

When I first arrived here in America’s hat, I didn’t understand quite how challenging the long, cold winters could be. I made some rookie mistakes and learned some valuable lessons, and now I’m ready to share some of my hard won wisdom with other Canadian newbies.


You just can’t skimp on winter gear! By the time Fall (as Canadians have renamed Autumn) comes, you should already be the proud owner of a bum-covering down-filled coat, sturdy waterproof boots, proper winter gloves, multiple pairs of thick socks, and good quality thermal leggings. Remember – you buy cheap, you buy twice!


Winter will always seem endless if those icy temperatures stop you from leaving the house. Invest in some fun winter sports equipment – ice-skates, skis, toboggan sleds – and be ready to play in the local park no matter the weather.


Sure, it can be tempting to simply grab a slice of pizza from the underground kiosk by the metro as you make your way home from work, to eat it joylessly as you sweat and squirm in your heavy outside gear, dreading the short walk that awaits you when you finally emerge from this stinking human warren, fearing the knives of the night air. So just plan ahead, make sure to have lots of veggies and pulses at home, and you can whip up healthy, satisfying soups in no time at all!


Our social lives can take a bit of a dip during the winter, so make an effort to keep in touch with your loved ones. Invite some friends over for dinner. Then remember that there isn’t any food, that the supermarket is a 15-minute walk away and the pavements are impassable pistes of icy death. Tell your friends dinner is cancelled because you are sick and no you do not want to reschedule because you don’t know when you’ll be better maybe you are dying. Call your Mum, who is asleep 2867 miles away. Leave a voicemail that says, “Mum. I need you to come get me. Mum. Just come get me please.”


When things drop below minus 15 and feel really freezy, it’s not always possible to take that trip to the skating pond. To be honest, you didn’t go to the skating pond when it was only minus 8 either, did you? Because you are lazy and you lie to yourself all the time. I, I, I’m going to use the skates next week. Sure you are. Sorry, as I was saying, sometimes you need to plan a cosy evening in. Turn the heat up! Who cares that your next hydro bill is already projected to be $430? Get into some fuzzy jammies and snuggle up on the couch with another bowl of your delicious winter soup or, alternatively, some stale crackers. Watch “warm natural fire with crackling sounds” on youtube for one hour forty four minutes and fifty five seconds. Then watch it again. As the video finishes for the second time, realize that you are weeping.


Start your day with some life-affirming mantras. Look in the mirror and repeat something reassuring, like, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s all okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s not okay, what, no, leave me alone, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s all okay” When your boyfriend asks who you are talking to, gaslight him and say that you were not talking to anyone, that he is hearing things because he hasn’t been outside for so long and maybe he should go to the shop to buy food. You might also like to repeat mantras as you endure some of those unavoidable cold walks from A to B. Try: “the sweet release of death comes for us all eventually,” or just “fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.”


The North Wind turns your blood with a kiss, makes rigid the parts of you that once flowed, that once breathed, and hardened now you sink. Your scream echoes silent as the world cracks beneath your numb weight, as frigid Winter rushes up, envelops your feet, your sex, kills the life in your belly, as it fills up your nostrils, as glass pierces the place your soul lived. Winter seals the space above, the crack you fell through, and you keep sinking, the whole impossible heaviness of you, down, down, down. Thousands of statues with terrified eyes fall too. They have been falling forever.

It has always been Winter; it will always be Winter.

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