It’s Not That Bad

Living in Germany has made me take a deeper look at my relationship to Canada–it’s forced me to take a position, as it were ( and I appear to have chosen a position 6489 km away, ahem).
Being out of the country compels me to talk about Canada in an interpretive way, inasmuch as the conversations I have that touch on Canada often take place with people who have only a vague sense of the country. Then there are times when something encountered in Germany brings out a reaction in me that feels more rooted in my nationality than in my personality.

An example of the latter has often been on my mind of late–winter.

The undeniable winteriness of this winter is a frequent topic of conversation in Berlin, and I, too, have been known to stoke the odd conversation on the topic, in the spirit of full disclosure. The thing about this winter though, is that it’s not that bad.
It’s snowy, and has been for a couple of months now, and it’s probably been a bit colder than normal. And I understand too, that this is apparently an unusual winter. Certainly the two previous winters I was here saw no more than 5 days where it snowed, let alone snow that stayed on the ground. And I know it can be frustrating, and it can be uncomfortable……but really–it’s not that bad.

I keep finding myself in discussions about the weather with people wherein I realize that I’m trying to get them to admit to me that they know that it’s not that bad, and I can see too, how they’re probably trying to get me to admit that it’s pretty bad. But with the same fervour that they bring to their explanations of ‘chill siberian winds having always created a special zone around Berlin where the air was simply too cold to snow’ (buddy, tell that one to Montreal–please) I will discuss with equal fervour what it’s like to be unable to open your front door because the snow has piled so high in front of it that you can’t get out. Or what it’s like to walk the streets of Montreal looking for a job when it’s -40°C.
Trust me; it’s not that bad.

But above all–even if it was that bad–there are things that can be done. The survival of any season anywhere in the world comes down to a simple process of ‘getting the hang of it’–usually a humdrum mixture of practical tips and creative thinking.

People in Montreal, for instance, have a great ability to get themselves through soul-crushing winters. I didn’t especially thrive during the winter that I lived there, but I made a few observations. For example: layer your clothing, and in addition to hats and gloves, you should probably wrap a scarf around your face.

The entire culture in Montreal celebrates winter sports–people go sledding and skating on Mount Royal, and Montreal is famously devoted to it’s hockey team, the Montreal Canadiens. Montrealers are great for house parties and potlucks–nothing keeps you warmer than someone else’s home-cooking….
And speaking of food: the food in Montreal is fantastic–they’ve got great coffee, and great breakfast places with real maple syrup (a winter product) on every table.  Not surprisingly there are tonnes of good places for french cuisine and that is a way to put on some padding in style.

In short: they make the most of what they’ve got, and they have done it so well that one can actually develop a very lovely, very Romantic image of Montreal in the winter (that said, you couldn’t pay me enough to spend another winter there–though I would visit).

Really, people in Berlin just need to get the hang of a real winter again. My guess is that half of the people around here–born elsewhere in Germany–have lots of experience of snowy, cold winters, but they’ve become accustomed to something a little less harsh. In fact, another of the various Berlin-Winter-Theory insights I’ve heard is that up until about 10 years ago, this type of winter was a lot more common.Thus even the Berliners themselves should be able to reach waaaaaay back in their memories to a time when winter brought snow, and Unicornwurst was a staple of every good german kitchen. A time not so long ago……

So get your ass down to the Baumarkt, pick up a snow shovel and for God’s sakes don’t take your snowmobile out onto the Spree just because you think it looks frozen–Mother Nature punishes all kinds of stupid, and wide-eyed ain’t no exception.

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One Comment on “It’s Not That Bad”

  1. Contributing Factor Says:

    Maybe it’s because of Communism. If it was like that 10 years ago, then maybe it was like that especially 20 years ago. What I’m saying is that maybe the COLD WEATHER reminds them of the COLD WAR. And that WAS that bad.


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