|signs of life, january 2014|
This is my favorite line:
And so this quiver that I quiver is a reminder that I am alive and fragile and only a moment in all of time, waiting for a bus that will be late and trying not to make all of this a bigger deal than it really is.-----On to the piece--------------
Stay here, quivering with each moment
like a drop of mercury
I quiver here like I don't remember quivering before. It is minus 31 with the wind chill factor. I don't understand this wind chill factor. The temperature, I'm told is minus 19 degrees celsius*,but with the wind chill factor it feels like minus 31*. If it feels like minus 31, isn't it minus 31? This is all too much like drugs and side effects. To me an effect is an effect. When they say side effect it makes it sound like something that will happen beside you. If a drug has a side effect of making you gain weight, the fat will just pile up next to you. You can even leave it there when you go out, just call the fat sitter. My point is this-they talk about the wind chill factor like a side effect of the weather. It's true, they say, it feels like minus 31 but don't feel too bad, it's really only minus 19. And who can say what one person's experience of minus 31 is to another person's experience of minus 31.
At the subway station the other day, a man in a full arctic, one piece, serious ski-do suit, complete with ski goggles foisted up for the time being, on the rolled up Balaclava on his head, said to a group of quivering, fashionable under-dressed women, "I don't really notice the cold."
I cry in this cold. I struggle to move sometimes. It causes a prehistoric ache in my bones. It chokes me with a loneliness for the West Coast that howls inside my quivering heart. It's not that I haven't lived in the harsh beauty of winter before, it's just that I'd forgotten what minus 31 with the wind chill factor feels like. I always found ways to stay warm and dry in the rain, but here I am like a city slicker dropped suddenly from a great height into an unforgiving wilderness. And this, I must say is what I respect most about this weather. It comes into Toronto, so proud and civilized and says, you can't forget about me, you can't control me, you can't do anything about me. It boasts with frigid certainty - I am in charge here!
Of course the talk about town this winter is that we have done this to ourselves, that these bitter temperatures are parts of the global warming parcel. We are experiencing the side-effects of our caviler conquest of Mother Earth. I wonder who turned the PR ball into the spin away from global freezing into global warming? Nothing like the mention of warmth to put us all back to sleep for a while. And so this quiver that I quiver is a reminder that I am alive and fragile and only a moment in all of time, waiting for a bus that will be late and trying not to make all of this a bigger deal than it really is.
I must avoid feeling sorry for myself in this weather. As the temperature drops so does my mood it seems. Not so much when I am inside with my coffee and books and pens and paper and a cuddly cat and a bathtub calling out to me, 'come dip your quivers and float your heavy human head and know all is well.' At least until the pipes burst.
* in America -19 celsius is -2.2 Fahrenheit and with an American wind chill factor equivalent to the Canadian wind chill factor experienced on the day of writing , would feel like -23 Fahrenheit.