Unlike most of Toronto, I’ve not been overly bothered by our cold, snowy winter. Also unlike most of Toronto, I’m out in the cold four or five times a day at least, which is what happens when you replace children in your life with two large drooling, fur-covered beasts. The huge gritty snowbanks can sometimes be an obstacle, and I will curse and wave my fist in the air with a zeal unknown to all but the emotionally disturbed upon encountering an uncleared sidewalk (shovel your snow, cocksuckers!), but the fresh cold air is bracing, the exercise imperative (for me and the dogs), and getting out of the house is a nice break in what can sometimes be a monotonous day.
Which is not to say that the experience is pleasant.
I try not to complain too much because I think of the other extreme. When the cold wind whips my cheeks to a scarlet red, and that little area above my eyebrows and just below the edge of my hat starts to go numb, I think of August. I look around me on the streets and remember the parched brown lawns, and the feel of sweat trickling down between my shoulder blades as I gasp for breath in the polluted Toronto air. I replace the shriek of wind in the trees with the eerie drill of cicadas. The energy to push on against the cold takes me back to the days when it felt too hot to put one foot in front of the other.
Looking around, it’s hard to imagine that the trees coated in ice, or the park an expanse of crusty snow, will ever be green again. How can it be possible? Winter makes us feel as if we’ll be trapped in the deep-freeze forever. The idea of glorious daffodils emerging from the ground or the amethyst heads of crocuses pushing up through the snow to herald the return of spring seems almost a cruel joke, never mind roses and lilacs and the glory of a vegetable garden.
Despite the harsh cold, I caught the first whiff of spring today. It may well have been -18′C (before the wind chill) when I was out this morning for the first of many treks around the block, but as I stood in the park, waiting for the dogs to grace the ground with their very special gift to the earth, the sun felt warm for the first time in months. Facing south, fully exposed, allowing my black pants and coat to absorb the weak heat of the sun’s rays, my body began to remember. I closed my eyes and let the light dance across my lids and sparkle in my lashes as I bowed my head.
In that brief moment in the sun, I remembered it all, and I was reassured. Spring will come; flowers will bloom in a glorious palette, leaves will unfurl with breathtaking grace. The glossy blackbirds will return to sing their shrill “Ocaleee!” from the trees. This will not last. Have strength, have patience. Find a sweet spot in the sun and wait it out.