I spent my childhood in Regina, Saskatchewan. Like most people who live in parts of Canada where it snows, blows, and freezes, you grow up wearing parkas: thick winter jackets. Halloween costumes take on a strange surreal manifestation when they are stretched and pulled over thick parkas and toques (I guess the kids call them beanies but whatever) and topped off with big red mittens. As a kid, parkas, snowsuits or snow pants, mitts, and snow boots offered protection from the snow and the cold. They also created a sort of isolation pod for the person wearing them. You couldn’t feel much of anything save for the prickly kiss of the wind-chill. You lost peripheral vision. If you had a scarf wrapped around your face then you could occasionally lost your breath (and on rare occasions, you may have managed to swallow bits of yarn or other fabric). Winter was a complicated and feral time of snow forts, snowball fights…snow violence I guess.
Now I live in Ottawa. It’s still cold here. Well really, the weather is all over the place. Chaotic one might say. I still wear a thick winter jacket. I still wear a toque and gloves and snow boots. I can’t wear a scarf though…it fogs up my glasses. I love walking outside in the early morning in the winter. The dark pre-dawn sky enfolds me with a sense of mystery. My hood cocoons me and envelopes my head so I can see nothing around me (of course this does limit the self-defense reaction time should I be attacked by snow ninjas…that risk seems low so I’m ok with it). Walking outside in the winter is the antithesis of summer walking where everything is bright and hot and exposed. There is mystery during the summer but it is sweaty, smelly, noisy, and crowded. The simple act of walking in the winter encourages (enforces!) self-introspection. Looking into the night sky (or early morning sky) brings to mind the sweet song of the Prince of Darkness and the expression of Isolate Intelligence. The darkness of winter is rife with mystery that is wrapped in a parka and revealed through wind, snow, and ice.