It’s cold in San Jose right now, but I feel bad about saying so. At the same time as I am experiencing a northern Californian chill, my family and friends in Edmonton are living through a long and hard Albertan winter with epic amounts of snow. There’s no comparison, really, but we only have the one word, cold, to describe them both. Of course, we could put an expletive or two in front of the word, but it’s still the same word. That seems to me to be sadly inadequate.
The Edmonton winter requires several layers of clothes and the covering of heads, hands, and even noses. The San Jose winter requires a jacket over a t-shirt, and possibly a pair of jeans instead of shorts. All Edmontonians own at least one long winter coat, but few San Joseans own a coat of any kind. When it is cold, they will add a layer on top but might continue to wear shorts and shoes without socks. People in both places will spend very little time outside in winter, and most journeys are by a car when it is cold. In Edmonton, though, it takes a lot longer for the car to warm up than it does in San Jose.
Surprisingly, people feel the cold strongly in both places. As you may have heard, it’s a different kind of cold, but it is still cold. The Albertan winter is a dry cold; the Californian winter is more humid. You can’t stay outside for long in cold Alberta because body parts freeze quickly in minus-double-digits Celsius. You can’t stay outside for long in cold California because the cold bypasses your skin and goes directly through to your bones. At least, that’s how it feels to me.
In my closet are my Canadian winter jacket, my poncho for fall weather, and my spring jacket. I could put on any one of those today and go for a walk but, well, it’s chilly. I wouldn’t have to shovel any snow or even protect myself from rain, but I think I’ll wait a couple of days until the weather warms up a bit. No matter where I live, cold keeps me from going outside.
I can already hear my Canadian family’s groans in reading this, and they will be right. I should not complain because there really is no comparison between Albertan and Californian experiences of cold weather. That’s why I need different words for cold. All suggestions from you will be much appreciated. I’ll wait; indoors.