This winter has been brutally cold. It has tested our Canadian mettle.
Canadian mettle apparently can be fairly easily tested, as I found out during last spring’s trip to Europe. Paris in the spring last year happened to be very cold, and even snowy. My family was there for a stopover on a ski trip to Austria, so we were able to make good use of the warm gear we had packed in our ski bags. The nicer clothes we chose for Paris were tossed aside, and we put on our Canadian woolies.
These weren’t even enough when we got to the Austrian Alps and the sub-zero temperatures hit us hard. We loaded up on more merino wool base layers in the local town. So much for being hardy Canadians.
How did that happen? Weren’t we supposed to be used to the cold weather? We’re Canadian. Our country includes the North Pole. And those well-dressed, stylish Europeans put us to shame.
Do you know what Europeans do during cold weather? They sit in outdoor cafes and sip chilled sparkling wine. Not giant cups of hot mulled wine held in frozen hands – no, they drank sophisticated COLD drinks. While we shivered.
And they did this while wearing fashionable leather shoes, not sheepskin lined Uggs, or giant Sorels rated to -40. Stylish Parisians will not give up their outdoor cafes, or their style, even during the winter.
Some of the Austrian cafés came with little sheepskins thrown over the chairs so you wouldn’t freeze your buns off, or with throws tossed around to tuck around your lap. Believe me, I made good use of these.
Now, I realized early on these Austrians are tough. You actually have to tell them they are not allowed to bring their babies on the chairlift in a rucksack. While it’s travelling UP AN ALP.
An Alp is a giant of a mountain. The kind of mountain that eats people like me up. Look what it did to my athlete of a daughter.
I clung to those chairlifts for dear life. The view from the chair looked like this. Can you imagine your kid dangling over this? Do we dangle out kids over the Rockies? Nope. No wonder the Austrians grow up tough, while we stay inside and shiver.
These people actually think about hitching a kid to their back, riding up a mountain, and skiing down. And then stopping at an outdoor café for a shot of Jagermeister. Probably one for the kid, too.
As we passed outdoor café after outdoor café, I started thinking it might actually be nice to take a bit of this attitude home. They weren’t afraid of winter – they completely ignored it and went about their business having fun and socializing on the streets. No hibernating at home for these people.
So did that inspire me during this past freezing cold winter? Nope. I kinda forgot all about it, and went back to my normal complaining about the cold. Until recently when I saw these holiday pictures again. The only exception was this awesome party we attended to watch the NHL Winter Classic outdoor hockey tournament – while outdoors. In -20 weather. We watched the game, and then kept partying, even dancing on the frozen swimming pool. See? It can be done. Booze helps, but it can be done.
Hopefully there won’t be too much left of this crazy weather, despite what the groundhog said. But, however many cold weeks are left, we might as well make the best of it.
We need to take a lesson from the Parisians and Austrians and get outside. Embrace the weather. Go for a walk. Grab a coffee. Be brave and drink something fancy that’s chilled. After all, we’re Canadian – we ARE winter! If there’s any winter where we need a little of this attitude, this is it.
And we shouldn’t be afraid to wear nicer shoes. They go much better with chilled bubbly.