Do you have Nordicity in your skin? Whether or not they were born in our extreme latitudes, each individual has a very personal response to offer. Experiencing, embracing, and welcoming winter is a new form of balance. It is almost tempting to say that a new lifestyle has established itself in our daily lives. Say hello to Nordic cuisine, the gentle taming of the elements, and an awakened look at our environment. However, is the time when we “endure” winter really over? The snowflakes don’t slide off each of us in the same way. Here are the different perspectives of two women on their relationship with the white season.
a new life in the south for ariane cloutier
It was on a flight to Ouagadougou that I met Ariane in 2016. With a twinkle in her eye and her head brimming with plans, she was setting off to explore the more exotic latitudes of West Africa. The promises of the sun and heat attracted her, a way to soften the worries of an existence experienced at 100 miles an hour. She kept running for years, bouncing from one work project to the next. Then, one day, she said goodbye to Quebec to rebuild her life on the island of Bonaire in the south Caribbean. That was two years ago. Now, the expression “the pleasures of winter” is permanently behind her.
“My parents weren’t fans of winter sports; it was never more important than that for me,” she told me from her patio, which looks like a tropical jungle. “I’ll even tell you: it’s more beautiful in a photo than experiencing it in the flesh!” She may be a native of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, but winter never stuck to her skin. Beyond the cold, there was the stress of a daily routine that is much busier than the rest of the year. Clearing the snow off her driveway right after waking up, scraping off her car, keeping her eyes glued to the slippery road, morning after morning…a challenging season for a busy woman.
“Since I’ve been here, I no longer wonder how I’m going to dress. It’s a whole lifestyle that I left behind,” Ariane confided to me, the shores of Venezuela on her horizon. “It brings me peace of mind; winter was a stress factor for me. I come to Quebec for Christmas, but I don’t miss anything…” At 40, she is inviting inner peace and simplicity into her life. It was in Bonaire that she met the man who would become her husband, energized by new challenges under the sun. “I prefer to be active while working rather than shovelling!” she quips with one last wink.
the snowflakes don’t slide off each of us in the same way.
nordicity in the skin for floriane trinel
What did Floriane and her family want? To escape the monotony and gloom of the French winter. “We had always tried to appreciate the joys of winter in France, but the cheerfulness was lacking at home in Nantes. And then, the season was so short, it was hard to make the most of it given the distances to reach the Alps to go skiing, for example.” By moving to Quebec, the word “winter” took on its full meaning for Floriane. Her quest for winter led her to settle down in Quebec City, where the pleasures of the snow are within reach for months.
“Winter is long, that’s for sure, but it always seems too short to me every year. There’s so much to enjoy and experience!” Floriane exclaimed, snowflakes already filling her eyes in July. The whole family is really sinking their teeth into this new lifestyle. Every snowfall and every bit of free time are excuses to embrace the cold season. For them, hivernotherapy has become a way of life for half the year. “I’ve lost count of the places to have fun in the city, even if it’s just a walk in the heart of a wooded area, landscaped or not. For me, there’s wonder in every corner of every branch!”
Collecting original experiences like ice canoeing, Floriane takes advantage of weekends and back-to-school times to transform her daily life into dozens of little moments that form the lifeblood of her new existence. Contemplating the frozen river, the white coat that covers the surrounding landscapes, the happiness of a crack- ling fire and a hot chocolate upon returning home… France is a long way off. “I’m already looking forward to diving into the snow again soon.” Winter? Floriane and her family can’t get enough of it!
Each year, our senses are invited to readjust to a brand-new environment. Beyond this annual cycle, it is really our profound vision of winter that is changing. It is no longer a question of enduring: the era of Nordicity has arrived. More than just a season, winter is a gate- way to a new lifestyle, almost a rite whose name remains unspoken.
It is somewhat thanks to François and Hélène, my host family in Thetford Mines, that I have become this defector, moving from the Breton rains to the acres of snow in Quebec, 15 winters later. Little by little, they have softened, been tamed. In this suddenly silent world, my ears are now caressed by the sound of ice floating in the river, a solitary bird in the distance. My Nordicity was built over time, with great shots of caribou, trips to the arena, snowshoeing in the woods, and mornings with a shovel in hand. It will always be with me; I have taken root in the snowbank. Because Nordicity is now my heritage, proudly shared.