There are people in this town who used to love the snow and the cold and don’t love it so much any more. It used to be that they could never get enough of it. They would look forward to skating and skiing and frolicking outdoors, coming inside only rarely to change toques and eat some soup.
Going south in the winter was for sissies, these winter-lovers would say. Canada is winter, they would say, after Gilles Vigneault, and a true Canadian would never escape it.
Spring was so much better if you’d endured all of winter. When spring came, you’d earned it. Not so, if you spent some of the winter months on beaches in southern climes.
And then there was all that hassle about airline security and customs and lineups at the border. Why would you want to go through all that?
Then, if you did, you’d just be another in the legion of snowbirds, guys with no tans wearing Bermuda shorts and lining up for dinner in Florida restaurants at five in the afternoon, hanging out with a whole bunch of people from Toronto at the Blue Jays spring training ballpark talking about bargain motels.
That’s the thing about going south. You become a stereotype. On top of that, it costs a lot of money to be a stereotype. Why would anybody want to do that?
It’s difficult to answer the question, except to say that for all of us, or at least some of us, eventually the cold wears us down. Not just the cold, but the early darkness and the lack of sunshine during the day.
This being the modern age, there is a name for it — seasonal affective disorder (SAD) defined by the U.S. National Library of Medicine as “a kind of depression that occurs at a certain time of the year, usually in the winter.”
The fact that there is a recognized disorder lends a kind of respectability to not liking cold and wanting to go somewhere where it isn’t.
Saying “I have to deal with my disorder” carries a lot more weight than saying “I have to fly south and go hit some golf balls and shop at factory outlets.”
Furthermore, being in possession of a disorder brings with it a certain persuasiveness: while some close friends or relatives might be inclined to scoff at your stated need for warmth and sunshine, they will be a bit frightened that, should you be talked into sticking around, you might give the disorder to them.
So off you go then, with your disorder and hardly any guilt feelings at all. The only proviso is that you had better be “cured” by the time you get back. It wouldn’t do to be grumping around just like you were before, only with a suntan.
You should be warned, before you set off, that you may encounter other types of disorders on your travels. Frozen Foot, Or Worse, Disorder, for example. That’s one that frequently afflicts Canadians, who are so determined to enjoy the warm ocean that they spend hours standing in it, even when it’s freezing cold. The inability to admit that it the ocean is freezing cold stems from the cost of getting to it and a thrifty Canadian’s need to get his money’s worth.
An extremely common travel disorder, although not publicized much, is called Interstate affective disorder (IAD) which punishes those who travel by car. Those afflicted with IAD lose their ability to recognize whether they are in the restaurant they were in yesterday, the one they are in right now or the one they will be in tomorrow. They also lose the ability to distinguish one U.S. state from another, coming to believe that the entire nation consists of groupings of chain restaurants, hotels and gas stations scattered around an interstate interchange.
Sad, is what it is.