Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow Daze; or, How a Canadian Dresses for an American Winter

It’s a snow day today, with three children home from school while mum and dad go out to their day jobs.

All this snow, combined with K.Line’s charming post about her winter wear has got me thinking about how I currently dress for the weather in the States compared with how I used to dress in Canada.

Perhaps I’ve shared this detail with you before, but when I went to university in Ottawa, I skated to school every possible day (meaning every day that the Rideau Canal was frozen). It was great exercise and usually faster than walking.

My house was right on the canal, so I’d cross the Driveway (the Queen Elizabeth Driveway), pop into the skating shack and don my skates. Boots would be tied together and slung around my neck. I also had a satchel slung crossways over my body, because I thought backpacks were goofy. (My one concession to style.)

Like K.Line, I never wore tights, leggings, or, heaven forbid, long johns under my trousers. I have a keenly developed long-john phobia that began when I was a child: from kindergarten through grade two I wore a dress to school every day (not my choice) and my mother would bundle me into long johns and then into a pair of tights over top.

Can you imagine trying to keep the long johns from not riding up your calves and bunching? At the tender age of 4 (we had two years of kindergarten), I knew that I did not ever want to wear long johns under my tights—or trousers—when I gained control of my own clothing choices.

Back to the trek on ice: I’d also wear a shirt for layering, followed by a thick sweater, a black watch scarf by Roots for my neck, all underneath an enormous, billowing dark-green ankle-length waxed cotton coat with brown corduroy collar (a la Barbour) by Hilary Radley.

Then there’d be a paisley wool scarf that covered my head, ears, mouth and nose, a black beret and a pair of ear muffs. Then mittens, of course, sometimes two pairs of hand-knit ones.

And if it were possible to glide down the ice against the piercing cold wind, I’d move forward (don’t forget the satchel and boots).

Today, on a snow day, I walked to work in—oy vey—après-ski boots, my Tecnica Skandias, a down jacket, beret, and lightly lined driving gloves. I have become very cavalier and soft indeed.


K.Line said...

Ha! I love how you used to skate to school. How many people can say that? Really.

WendyB said...

As much as I can, I dress as if winter doesn't exist. I like to stay in denial and avoid snow boots at all costs.

Belle de Ville said...

Skating to school, that is so charming. Having only spent a few years of my childhood in New England, I never adapted well to cold weather, but I admire anyone who can take the blustery weather with pluck.

TheCluelessCrafter said...

Youth and snow: both so fresh and alarmingly distant until I read your take.

K_Line, on the other hand, got me thinking about the process of bundling up and how I view it as an adult (commented chez elle).

How charming to have arrived to school on a gleaming glass trail!

Anonymous said...

We lived in Ottawa for a few years and I couldn't skate to school, but I always brought my skates to school.

On lunch and study breaks, skating on the Rideau Canal, and eating beaver tails, was a welcome form of exercise.


Miss Cavendish said...

I'm teaching my students to make beaver tails this week!

Ivy said...

I'm just back from two days of skating in Ottawa. And I wore my ear hat in honor of you ...