Dear Friend in France,
You miss the snow, the air that bites your throat as you inhale, you miss the sun that puts on a brief but dazzling show for the 4 hrs it manages to hang in the winter sky. I know, I know. I never thought I’d say it because I’m not a fan of Calgary in winter but there is something to this longing. It’s called sunshine, at least for me.
Here in southwestern Ontario, as in southwestern France the sun hides its happy face from December til March. When it can be bothered to show up, it’s pale and wan – like the Canadians it shines weakly upon. Weirdly, Calgary enjoys bountiful sunshine in winter – so much so that sunscreen is required year-round. My sunscreen is now long buried until summer.
Unlike my friend in France, I’m not a winter baby. He was born on the prairies of Saskatchewan (I have no idea if I even spelled that right). His blood looks forward to thickening every winter. My blood panics and scrambles everywhere but where it’s needed when it gets cold, leaving me blotchy and shivering. While he longs to be knee-deep in powder on a mountainside somewhere in Banff, I long to be mostly naked on a tropical beach. (My longings don’t change much from season to season).
Instead of inhaling razor sharp air right now, my friend is inhaling moisture in the form of incessant rain – a peculiar, unfamiliar form of precipitation to him. Winter has cast her dreary cloak upon the Bordeaux region as here in Toronto. Although the weather – for us – is freakishly warm at 5 degrees celsius right now, an ever-growing gloom encroaches as we near the solstice.
Our longings are quite different. I crave heat with my light. I count the days until the Winter Solstice. If I lived in the southwest of England, I’d throw myself on the ground in front of Stonehenge and give thanks to the gods on the solstice. No gifts required, increased daily light is gift enough.
I string Christmas lights around the house and leave them on when the sun stands me up. The hydro company l-o-v-e-s me. I put strange concoctions on the stove consisting of cinnamon sticks, vanilla, and Christmas-y spices. Anything to get me through the darkest days of winter. I curse the incessant rain that turns to black ice. I long for snow – if only to diguise the dull gray and brown hues that dominate the landscape now.
So, dear friend in France, until you wing your way back to the Arctic, make do. Ski the Alps. Cuddle up with the Girl and Jesus Jr. in front of a roaring fire and dream of the icy wonderland you long for. I will huddle under a blanket with my kitten and look out at the drizzly streetscape and be homesick for places I’ve never seen…Tahiti, Hawaii, Fiji…
One week until the Winter Solstice…and the painfully slow return of the SUN.