I have the opportunity to ride the bus a few times a week. It is the express bus out of my neighborhood and goes directly downtown. So it is filled with regulars. People who head to their office tower jobs from suburbia five days a week. It is an early bus. I get on at 6:15am and I am one of the last stops. People ride with their eyes closed, rocking along with the sway of the bus and catch a half-a-wink here and there on the way in. It is winter right now and so it is also dark out this early. It feels unnatural as we pull ourselves out of bed at what feels like the middle of night and trudge through the inky icy world.
The quietness of the snow covered streets is a gift today. It is as though all cars are driving with slippers on as there is no road noise only the gentle purr of their engines. It is so rare that the streets are that quiet. More often the cars create an applause of water splatter and roar of rubber on pavement and engines.
The bus was also so different today. We are in the midst of a cold snap (-22C) and everyone is bundled up and shivering. You would think this harsh weather would make us retreat more into our coats and hoods. You would think the harsh weather would create harsh people. You would think our voices would be frozen too. But it is the complete opposite. Canadians combat this harshness with a joviality that bubbles up and bursts forth from our frost rimmed faces.
The bus was abuzz this morning with laughter, conversation, and chatter. It was such a stark contrast from the serious frigidity outside. Canadians love to complain about the weather. Together in solidarity against nature’s extremes, we find a connection to our fellow passengers in our cold toes and red noses. We outwardly complain but inwardly we are laughing at the absurdity of it. We secretly enjoy the challenge of our weather. We wouldn’t have it any other way. How boring the day would be if we didn’t notice the weather because it was just another beige lukewarm day.
Canadians are blessed with nature's extremes and in turn we immediately have something to share with a stranger. It might seem like all we do is talk about the weather but this is our way of creating common bonds, sharing comradery, and creating unity. So I say "let the cold snap, let the snow fall, and the temperature rise and fall like a yo-yo" – we are creating a culture to shelter ourselves not only from the weather but from our loneliness.