Even in Canada where winter is so much a part of our lives, it seems like we seldom have anything good to say about our cold climate. Everyone was complaining of record-breaking cold this week, the harshest in recent memory. Even the squirrel in the yard seemed to be jumping farther and faster than usual in an attempt to spend as little time as possible out on the snow.
Surprisingly, there are actually some benefits to living in a cold climate. Our air is fresh, and long cold spells prevent too many insects from surviving through to the next summer, benefits we usually don’t consider until our kitchens are bombarded with ants in the middle of a sticky summer heat wave. Snow’s insulating properties also keep small rodents dreaming beneath the drifts at this time of year, instead of trying to find shelter in our homes.
A cold climate also has a positive impact on our intelligence, especially our ability to delay gratification. The mental functions required to store food, dress warmly and create adequate shelter are crucial to survival in harsh environments.
It’s no wonder the Vikings were the first Europeans to make a settlement on this side of the Atlantic. Habitually doing hard things in a harsh environment gave these cold climate dwellers an edge over other cultures. Their ability to shrug off the cold and wholeheartedly embrace winter survives to this day. Though polar dipping may not be to everyone’s liking, at the very least, cold winters incite us to practice hope and patience as we wait for the warmer days ahead.
Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2013