The Polar Vortex has arrived. It’s minus 25 outside. Exposed flesh will freeze in 10 minutes. After last night’s high winds, it’s eerily still. No rabbit tracks in the fresh-fallen snow. Every few minutes, the picture window frames in the kitchen expand or contract with a sigh. The brick walls are cracking like Bristol board. Frostquakes, they call that phenomena. More like some unseen hand pitching rocks against the side of the house, a giant foot stomping on the roof. It’s eerily quiet, too, although the traffic on Leslie street continues as normal, bumper to bumper.
I’m bundling up in layers, getting ready for work. My lunch is packed – lots of healthy snacks. Some new tubs of machine-packaged tea and coffee (they’ve installed Keureg and Tassimo machines for us in the Staff Lounge). My poor old car is getting balky in the morning. When I turn on the key, it heaves a sigh and the engine hesitates and whines before finally catching.
As I sit in my heated drivers seat watching the mist creep up the windshield, I catch a mental glimpse of the men who usually camp out on the subway grates near the corner of Bay and Queen Street downtown. They’ll be huddling under mounds of donated sleeping bags as the steamy air swirls up around them. Most commuters crush by them; a few will leave a cup of coffee or a paper-wrapped sandwich. But the fact is, they live there, on the icy streets. Even ‘dumb’ animals have the sense to get inside when it’s like this. What demons drive these men (and a few women) to shun the comforts of four walls? I could never figure it out. I can’t do anything for them.
I’m going to be like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz today. I will not think of winter. I will not think of winter.