Europe is in a deep freeze, with temperatures dropping to minus 18, a number that our hotel staff speak of in hushed tones, and then only with a shudder of horror. Horror indeed. The average February low is -1.3 C. What is happening now is something along the lines of an advancing ice age.
We would huddle inside our little hotel room but now is the time for action. Canada’s national security depends on it. Everyday, we bundle up and head outside for a seemingly relaxing stroll. I say “seemingly,” to conceal the serious business that is afoot: The business of perpetuating our greatest national myth – That Canada is a barely inhabitable fortress of ice.
Canadians don’t walk; we skate, ski or snowshoe. We don’t have cars; we have snowmobiles and sled-teams. We don’t have central heating: We have bonfires that we dance around to keep ourselves warm. We don’t live in buildings, we live in igloos, although thanks to one Quebec hotel, some think we live in ice palaces. That is okay. They still look really cold and uncomfortable.
It is this myth of enduring winter that keeps Canada safe from invasion and foreign aggression.
If you disagree, consider this: The only country to make a real land grab from Canada lately is Denmark, a nation that doesn’t mind a little snow now and then.
Even terrorists, the most unevenly tempered lot of the global bully bunch, work primarily outside of the arctic, subarctic and boreal climate zones.
Invade Canada? Who would want to?
And so, to keep the rumours alive, everyday we put on a big show of going outside to ‘enjoy’ the cold, brisk air. We return to the hotel exclaiming about the mild weather, and regale the Swiss with stories of horseback riding at minus-20 (true), jogging at minus-25 (also true) and cross-country skiing for hours in just about any temperature.
We keep it secret that we’re out for such long stretches because our brains have been rendered senseless by frostbite such that we can’t find our way back home.
Canadian ex-pats: Keeping Canada safe from afar.