Have you ever been in Florida or Arizona in the winter months? And have you ever walked past a hotel, snug in your cardigan/jacket/windbreaker, and noticed very, very pale people cavorting in and around the outdoor pool in bathing suits saying things like, “I can’t believe how *warm* it is!”? Those people are Canadians.
I should know. I’m one of them. I remember December 2006, basking by the pool outside a Phoenix hotel while grounds staff wearing long pants and jackets wielded leaf blowers the other side of the ornamental fence. Christmas carols were playing, and my kids and I were jumping in and out of the emerald-green water of the outdoor pool.
Cut off from the sun and subject to subzero temperatures for long periods of time by our lengthy winters, Canadians (especially those like me, who are of British ancestry) on holiday in tropical climes will strip down to shorts or bathing suits as soon as the thermometer creeps above 18°C (66°F) and expose their blindingly white skin to both the elements and the locals with exuberant abandon. This is so prevalent (and we are so very, very pale) that the only way you can see Canadians lying on a nude beach, and avoid stepping on them, is to watch for them to blink. (Not that I'd know about the nude beach from experience, mind you, I'm just sayin'.)
This carries over into our behaviour at home. Long after our neighbours to the south are giving themselves sunburns while gardening, we are shovelling the last patches of snow off the lawn and onto the driveway to get it to melt faster (and believe me, the irony of that situation after a winter of doing it in the opposite direction is not lost on anyone). So when an unseasonably warm Saturday rolls around in mid-to-late April and the thermometer goes up to 27°C (84°F), tradition dictates that we purchase beer, fire up the barbecue, uncover pasty white arms and legs, and let the children welcome the warm weather with the annual rite of spring: the slip 'n' slide.
The sharp-eyed among you will notice that while there is no snow left on the lawn, there are no leaves on the tree yet either.