Romancing the Cold

As noted earlier, the temperature in Winnipeg can go down to -40 Celsius in the winter. It’s apparently unusual for it to get that cold but there is a reason that most non-Manitobans call the city “Winterpeg.”
The cold, unlike on the East Coast, is dry and less snowy — according to the folks I spoke with, the difference between -20 and -10 and 10 degrees is noticable but once it’s cold, it’s just cold.
Winnipeggers to a tee romanticize the cold weather. Guy Maddin, one of my favorite of directors, loves to play off the insanely cold the winter nights there. (J. Hoberman wrote a piece about Maddin and his latest in this week’s Voice.) Other artists and artisans there relish the cold because it gives them the privilege (well, necessity) of staying inside and producing.
One might think that all of this cold-love would make for a closeted culture. What I found in Winnipeg was that the winter’s grip allows groups of musicians, writers, readers, and other self-selected oddfellows to instead meet up, play, punctuate, or otherwise pontificate. There appears to be a livingroom-based, grassroots-like subculture to the place which then filters up to the rest of the city during the warmer months.
I realize that I’m going on too long about this fine city. I’ll stop after tomorrow.

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