We just got our first major snowfall this year, and spring is just around the corner (or maybe I'm being naive...)
I grew up in a place with very little snow. Winter was cold; there was some slush. I hated winter. I did not go on skiing holidays with my family. I preferred to curl up in front of a fireplace with a good book.
Then, I got married, and my wonderful husband thought Quebec was the place for us. I was excited about studying at McGill, but even more so, about living in a Francophone province. I remember the immigration process well. I "wowed" them with my French skills and convinced them that I would be an active, contributing member of Francophone society in the province. I did everything but dress myself in the fleur-de-lys. Wait: I think I did wear fleur-de-lys earrings.
That was in May. Come December, and buckets and buckets of snow, and I think the best way to describe what I was feeling is to say that panic set in. But it was brief. My husband, hailing himself from a place where it never snows, saw the joy in it all right away; and it didn't take long to make me a convert.
Montrealers do not sit inside their homes and complain about the snow. They revel in it. There's an "underground" that allows you to continue about all your downtown activities without having to step in and out of the blustery winds. There are sledding hills everywhere, frozen ponds for ice skating. My first experience at Valcartier, the largest sledding park in North America, was so exciting that I filmed it! I shelled out the necessary hundreds of dollars for a great coat, boots, snow pants, tuque and mittens, and I barely felt the freezing temperatures.
The second winter had me searching for more to do, and I found just that in all the region's winter festivals. Every single weekend was packed with outdoor things to do: toboggoning, tir sur neige, even zip-lining over snow-covered valleys. I was in awe. I thought I'd give one of my children the name "Neige" because it was so beautiful, so Canadian, so Québécois.
Several years later, we did start our family. Children bring a whole new joy to winter (well, except for their piles of gear in the mud room...). We've invented a new sport in our backyard that we affectionately call Quebec Rodeo. Kid sit on a saucer sled that has a long rope attached to it; my husband swings them around in large circles, gaining speed until they fall off. Everyone has rosy cheeks and is the feel-good type of exhausted when we come in for hot cocoa.