Picture a warm day, maybe +10 Celsius. The sun is shining. You look out your window and smile. When you emerge from your home into the sweet spring air, the sunshine on your skin feels like a hug from heaven. All day you are contented and your step is light. You decide not to wear your jacket. The next morning, you wake up refreshed. You sit up in bed, stretch, and walk toward the window, excited for another beautiful day. You pull back the curtain and... SO MUCH SNOW. This is spring in Canada.
I have to be honest, I don't miss Canadian spring. I do miss Canadian winter, it's my favourite. To my Canadian readers, please do not send me hate mail. It's hard to admit to Canadians that you love winter. Especially in April. As a child, winter was always my favourite. Some people are made for cool weather, and bundling up. I love the snow, the colour of the sky against the snow, the way snow sparkles in the sunshine, the cosy feeling of being in your house during a snowstorm (ultimate hygge), the way it never really gets dark in the city as the light pollution bounces off the snow at night and reflects back from the clouds, I love the quiet, I love winter evening walks. As a young adult, I had a fling with fall, this was in part, due to moving to Eastern Canada and experiencing the amazing long autumn season of that part of the world. The foliage in New Brunswick is astounding. Red, orange, yellow, so bright it is almost fluorescent. The maritime fall seduced me, I was accustomed to the leaves turning yellow, followed by snow, usually before the leaves had even finished falling, definitely before Halloween. Snowsuits under our costumes was the norm. Poor Edmonton, land of two seasons, summer and winter.
Snow in Ottawa.
If Edmonton has only two seasons, it could be argued that England has only one. A looooooong season of mud. There is a reason that the national footwear of England would be *Wellies. I totally miss snow. Although, I must say, I did find winter cold here in Southern England. It is so humid, that when it's cold/rainy/windy, you really catch a chill. You feel cold right in your bones. It's difficult to warm up. Tea helps. So do baths, the fireplace. This is all pretty cosy stuff, so I was pleased. It would be cold enough for snow, but usually on clear days. There was a lot of fog and frost. Then, it would warm up enough for a cold rain. We had a light dusting of snow ONCE. It was exciting! And it lasted about an hour. Parks are always open, so we kept going. Sometimes we would be bundled in **toques and mittens. I have never seen so much mud in my life. My kids often had to change clothes when returning from the park. Mr. G would usually have mud splashed on his face, he has a gift for messes. Our car was, and still is, covered with beach towels and blankets to protect the interior from the muck we bring back from the park. My cousin visited from Canada and helped me take the boys to the park because she is a wonderful person. As we walked back to the car, she did a quick scan of the kids, and the adults shoes, and exclaimed, "you weren't kidding about the mud!" She is not an overly dramatic person, and she has four children of her own, so she knows stuff.
All that mud is worth it for the English spring. In the English winter, sun is a rare commodity. In the spring, there is more often sunshine, or maybe I have just been acclimatized. Everything was suddenly in bloom, much earlier than I have ever experienced. I have been informed that this year was an earlier spring than most. It's been lovely. The air smells of flowers and fresh rain. There are still cold days and most of the time I remain confused as to how to dress. How many layers do I need? I never have any idea and I often get it wrong. The warm fragrant air encourages me to open the windows and bring the fresh air into our house. This means finding bees, wasps, and spiders in the house, because THERE ARE NO SCREENS ON ANY WINDOWS IN ENGLAND.
Please indulge me while I explore a screen tangent. I have been thinking about how the entire story of Peter Pan would not be possible if the nursery window had been outfitted with a large screen. I suppose Peter could have torn the screen down, or flown through it, or maybe Wendy would have dismantled it. All of this would have really slowed down the action. It also would have lent a more sinister feeling to Peter's (sometimes invited- but not always) breaking and entering. So, having no screen is obviously more whimsical. You never know who is going to turn up. Peter Pan? Tinkerbell? A burglar? A neighbourhood cat? Living in England is exciting.
I am feeling overall grateful for our seasons of mud and a beautiful back garden for my children to enjoy. Weather is a funny thing. It's the most common topic of conversation, both in England and in Canada. It's the safest thing to complain about, and commiserating about poor weather has been known to create friends out of enemies, if only for a moment. Best of luck to you Canada. I hope that spring has found you or does so soon! For now, you can look at my springtime pictures and see if you can even remember what spring is.
*Wellies- British, rubber boots, I also totally made up this "National Footwear" nonsense.
**toque- Canadian, a small knitted winter hat.