We are in the middle of a cold snap here. The coldest air since December has hit Cold City and its hinterlands with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Frost gathers on the inside of the car windows, even with the heat on high, and traveling at high speeds along Cold City expressways one sees huge plumes of condensed hot air rising in the sky like cumulus, obscuring the skyscrapers and rising over the brutalist, wide-shouldered concrete forms of the urban landscape. Even with the spectre of global warming, Cold City is a place built for winter, for the socialism of necessity, for cooperation in survivance, if without actual human warmth behind such lofty goals. But I guess that is part of it, at least here in this cold part of anglophone North America.
As the arctic air has poured over a huge swath of the region, morbid tales from the nether regions of stranded motorists, disastrous unexpected cracks in lake ice, and frozen bodies found in drifts float lazily back towards the city, where being stranded or even worse having to hoof it home through piled snow drifts (and dying for the effort) are distinct impossibilities, surrounded by millions of people driving recklessly and government sponsored rescue services prowling the highways. In Cold City and its suburban necklaces, you're never more than a 5-minute ride away from a Whopper your way. Why worry? It's not like the old days, when white settlers and indigenous people alike were regularly found frozen to death or dying of starvation through the winter months. Let's hear it for microwave ovens and central heating, salad from California and Monster Truck snow plows!
La Nena and I were supposed to go to the opening of our local ice rink, but we couldn't get it together to leave our respective (warm) houses to actually get out into the cold to warm up Cookie and go enjoy watching the skaters roam around and around a small lake rink. The astringent quality of the cold, dry air tends to chap lips and rouger the cheeks, making lingering outside, whether it's to the local bodega for cigs or venturing to the car for work, a distinctly uncomfortable proposition.
I have persisted, perhaps stupidly, in wearing autumnal outfits even as the mercury and wind chills flirt with the depths beneath zero Fahrenheit, and I pondered this today while passing an abused, post-snow storm grime-covered truck on the highway, with the family inside each packed tightly in puffy down jackets in unreal colours like teal and bright pink, tuques, and gloves, while I blithely smoked a cigarette in a cute little corduroy jacket and a beautiful light wool grey scarf given to me by Philosopher Mom, sans hat, gloves, and snow boots. In point of fact, I was wearing Keen clogs, albeit with socks, but still. Not necessarily snow-trekking gear. Is this the effect of city slicker sophistication, of resisting the tendency to assume the countenance of the Michelin Man, or a naïveté, an unawareness of the true dangers of winter here, even if now it comes in frosty drips and drabs? Cold places are, in my experience, quite different from warm places, and Cold City reflects some of this frigid rigour of life in its social formations as well as architectural details. Instead of solving the riddle, I have decided to consider myself in exile.