Sydney Winter: Canadians Get Cold Too

I think Canadian people don’t like the cold but they know how to get dressed for it. I have spent most of my winters in Québec and I know what cold is. I know how unpleasant it is to be stuck outside unable to start your car when the temperature is too cold even for “things” to be working. I will always remember the day I got locked outside my mum’s house because the garage door electronic system was dead frozen. It was New Years Eve, unimaginably freezing cold and I had broken my coccyx snowboarding the day before. I managed to walk/crawl desperately to the last remaining public phone – of course mobile phones never work when we need them – to call a cab and drive to my dad’s house hoping that they were back from their New Year’s night. That was the coldest night of my life. Don’t get me wrong here I do love winter I just hate being cold. In fact living in Australia makes me feel like I miss winter a lot, especially these days when it’s wet, humid and frisky in “winter” Sydney.I miss a real winter with a properly heated house from where I could enjoy a 30 cm snowstorm in a dark, crisp morning. I miss putting a long and cosy winter coat on with a fur hat and my warm and stiff Sorrel boots. More than anything else I miss coming back home after an afternoon of playing in the freezing outdoors and feeling the warming blood flooding my cheeks red and my hands slowly tingling on the cosy fire. Instantly I can smell the freshness of the snow and the burning wood. But we don’t move abroad to seek what we can find at home and I accept and enjoy the local weather in a different way.

I just get really frustrated sometimes when it’s impossible to feel warm… inside my house! I seriously don’t get how a city like Sydney is so poorly prepared for the cold. An Aussie mate told me once “well the thing is we know it’s going to be cold, but we don’t know how cold it will be” hmmm… I am not sure that it explains why there is no proper heating here but that was his explanation. Perhaps the high price of energy is a good reason not to use your heater too much. I guess people are in denial. I experienced the same story during my first Sydney winter last year. At first I enjoyed the sunlight that reminded me of an eternal autumn and the fresh air, borderline cold enough weather to put a tuque (beanie) on your head. Somehow I am happy to wake up in the morning and enjoy a warm day here and there, walk in the bush like it is so fun to do in autumn. It’s a temperate life, temperate climate. A perfect time to drink hot and spicy wine, not cold enough to “freeze” your finger. But then come the rain and the dank, humid air… And then this unknown mould starts to grow in our flat like a passive, yet annoying flatmate leaving grey stuff on all of our clothes and walls and the endless battle begins.

My first winter in Sydney was definitely the coldest ever! I had no proper winter clothes, no blanket, no heater or proper autumn boots. This year I took charge of the inside climate and despite its incredible ability to be colder inside than out, our flat feels warmer with the double feather quilt, the flannel sheets, and the fluffy faux fur blanket I bought. I am not too crazy about the beard that Lover is cultivating to fight against the cold but just like winter I imagine it will eventually come to an end…

I have been lazy recently. Sydney winter is putting me into a state of expectation of a harsh, cold winter that will never come. It’s a biological thing and I can’t do anything about it. 28 years or so of white, Canadian winters have conditioned my brain to get psychologically ready for months of dark and cold weather. At this stage I am cooking fudge and other holiday treats way too often and singing Christmas songs as if Christmas was around the corner… seriously.  I need to push myself really hard to get out of my pyjamas, and then my cosy blanket, and then my house. And so, life goes on and a day of 20 degrees will come and I, too, will be in denial and forget that this is winter.

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