What if Winter Never Came?

The Link, Winter 2018
| by David Newland |

Every year, sometime between late September and mid-November, the grumbling begins. The causes vary: the first hard frost, putting the winter tires on the car, an ill-omen from the Farmers’ Almanac. But inevitably the season arrives – the season, that is, of complaining about winter.

Winter itself shows up at some point, too – but it usually arrives later and departs earlier than the season of complaining about it does. Complaining about winter is often a year round sport in Canada, depending on where you live. The less actual winter a given region receives, the more complaining its inhabitants are likely to do.

…wish away the winter and you get November, forever.”

In the High Arctic, people rejoice over the arrival of winter. Once the sea ice has set in, folks can travel, camp, hunt and fish on the ice. Even south of the Arctic, self-styled ‘northerners’ are typically thrilled to strap on skates, snowshoes or skis. Anyone who loves ice-fishing or snowmobiling can’t wait till the snow falls and the lakes freeze.

Still, by the time you get to southeastern Ontario, a big chunk of the population seems to believe winter is a kind of annual plague. The fact that winter is arriving later than ever, leaving sooner than ever and is punctuated by long thaws in-between seems to carry no weight. And the anti-winter set don’t miss an opportunity to let everyone know how they feel about it!

Call me a curmudgeon, but this drives me nuts. I mean, why live in a place blessed with four seasons if you can’t stand one of them and you spend a good portion of at least two of the others expressing your displeasure? But rather than make matters worse, I have a solution. Every time you hear someone (yourself included) complain about winter, just offer this friendly reply – you’ll miss it when it’s gone for good.

Okay, it’s a little stark. But in a time of rapidly changing climate, where a global rise in annual average temperatures threatens us all, is it too much to gently remind people? The least we can do is to bear that measure of cold weather that’s ours to enjoy, or endure.

I mean, what if winter never came? No skating, no skiing, no snowshoeing; no thick white flakes for kids to catch on their tongues; no snowballs, no snowmen, no snow forts. No tobogganing, no horse-drawn sleighs, no frost-designs on window panes. True, if winter never came there’d be no shovelling driveways, no scraping windshields, no Christmas shopping in slush! Those are challenges, especially if mobility is an issue. But think about this – if all those under-the-breath curses came true and winter never came…what would we have?

Let’s face it, friends. What we’d have is a season of darkness, damp, despair, storms, sleet and runny noses, minus everything that makes them worthwhile. For heaven’s sake, be careful what you wish for – wish away the winter and you get November, forever. And NOBODY wants that!

David Newland is a writer and musician based in Cobourg. In November of 2015, David was named a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, a distinction that reflects a lifelong engagement with landscape and story.

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