A few months ago, my sister proposed a trip. Without thinking too hard, I immediately said yes to a winter trip to Quebec, Canada. Now, I love trips that require special equipment and apparel, but this was next level for me. From booking to leaving, my entire winter wardrobe was turned over, bolstered, improved, and tested. As possible -20 degree temperatures loomed closer, the panic set in. Are these boots really going to keep my feet from freezing? Are four layers enough? Will my mittens fail? Will all of my digits snap off and I will get them all replaced via socialized medicine?
Happily, on our coldest day (-15 at noon), all of my fears were gone. If anything I was more likely to have a heat stroke upon entering any establishment, as it is difficult to shed 15 pieces of clothing and still be able to browse. The cold is a chore there. There is no running outside to get the mail (well, maybe for locals). There is no leaving anything in the car overnight. There is no hitting snooze because getting ready to go outside is really like preparing for space travel (as in it takes a team to dress you).
The cold there is part of the culture. It's an ever present element and a source of pride at the end of every winter. (we survived!) Québécois are a hearty people who know how to have fun in the snow. They are so good at it that even I felt like I loved it. We went snowshoeing, glissading, tobogganing, snow tubing, and, best of all, dog sledding. (Seriously, dog sledding was the most exhilarating and terrifying thing I've done in a while. It was awesome.) We went to their winter carnival in Quebec city and marveled at a hotel made entirely of ice and snow.
I learned much, especially that one can get British candies in parts of Canada, roads to not need to be plowed and salted, and we (mid-atlanticers) are really, really bad at winter.
Also, they really take their French seriously there. Yes, yes, I am the last person on earth to realize that in Quebec people really speak French and many only speak it. My French consists of a bloody-ear inducing count to 10, so this really was a shock.
It was an awesome and exhausting long weekend and I really can't wait to go back. But, maybe in summer next time.