I type slowly, waiting for my flesh to defrost and the blood to return to my extremities. Performing a grocery run after the sun sets in December, in Montreal, is – to the the least – an experience. Whether it falls under the bracket of interesting or harrowing, is up for further debate.
The thermostat says it’s 20 below, but the disclaimer on the weather network reminds us – in big white letters against a striking red background, no less – that it actually feels like 30 below. Hurray for facts.
I’m certain it’s the history buff in me, because anytime the temperature outside is a good 50 degrees colder than it is inside I find my thoughts being carried back to those first Europeans, those intrepid explorers – Jacques Cartier and friends – who sailed from France and crossed the Atlantic in search of discovery and stumbled upon this heartless, godforsaken New World instead.
In grade school, we’re all taught that the first winter here for these travellers was utter bullshit. The snow came early, trapping them here in their log forts. Picture a scene of whispy Europeans, sulking around in their tights and codpieces, searching for fire, warmth, inferno – anything! – finding nothing but the bleak abandoning cold of Canada.
Before arriving here the coldest most of them had ever experienced was something just above warm
Were it not for the “noble” natives and other tropes of history coming to their rescue, none of them would have survived the winter and been able to make it back to France to recount their wondrous tales.
I suppose the hardships a 20 something year old faces getting a pack of organic tofu is of course nothing compared to the hardships of a bunch of scurvy-ridden sailors busy freezing to death, but in a way I’m a little bitter with those guys.
You’d think that upon their return voyage they might have beeb more inclined to warn Europe of this place and it’s bullshit weather. But instead, they did the opposite and got more and more people to come over to this crazy place. Honestly, what were they thinking? Why would anyone bother coming back here, much less building cities? The natives knew better, they hung out in big log cabins with 40 of their family and friends just to keep warm while we’re busy building massive, cold houses that can barely contain the warmth thanks to the no good addition of windows, doors and paper thin walls.
It boggles my mind that Montreal is a metropolis, one of the great cities of the world, and yet they chose to build it in such a damn cold place as this. How crazy were our ancestors? Was beaver fur really worth it?