I guess it is officially winter. The calendar doesn’t matter here. What matters is the snow, and it’s falling. Today was the first time this winter I had to clear the driveway. Despite shoveling the driveway just a half an hour before my husband came home, he couldn’t tell it had been done when he arrived. Yep, definitely winter, though it will get much colder before long.
I think of this winter as L’hiver 2.0 (Winter 2.0). As last winter approached, I was living alone in our home, counting down the days until I would head to Ontario and finally bring the husband home with me. I was also scared. I really didn’t know what to expect from my first Canadian winter, except that it would be MORE and BIGGER and COLDER and LONGER than any winter I had ever experienced in the U.S. And it was. But it also ended eventually.
A lot of things are different this year. My husband is at home with me. I know what to expect from winter, and that it won’t actually kill me. I also have more going on than I did last year (about to start a full-time French course which I’m REALLY excited about!). Perhaps the biggest change is that I’m no longer caught in the interminable wait of the immigration process. It doesn’t seem like that would make such a big difference, but landing as a Canadian Permanent Resident has set my mind at ease and given me a deeper sense of security and belonging.
Today I walked through the snow to check our mail, and in our box was an envelope from the province of Québec. In the envelope was my first provincial health card. Seeing that card made me smile as I remember a giggle my dear sister gave me a few years ago. She has a very dry, flat way of speaking at times, which just makes what she says even funnier. She also has a bit of an Okie accent, far more than I do. When sister first found out I’d started dating a Canadian, she said to me, “So, yer datin’ a Canadian. Gonna marry ‘im and getcha some of that free healthcare?” I just cracked up, as marrying the Canadian guy I’d just started to date casually was not something I’d even considered. But…I suppose I did “marry ‘im and get me some of that free healthcare.” “Free” is a funny term, with what we pay in taxes, and considering I had to pay Québec $200 well before I was eligible for health care, despite the fact that I had never earned a dollar in Canada. And “free” is funny, considering all I did at home today while the husband is at work (all of our laundry, other chores, administration – including doing the survey for our home inspector AND talking on the phone about snow removal, all in French, prepping our dinner for this evening, and shoveling the driveway).
This has been a bumpy road, and I’m sure there are more bumps ahead. I miss my family like crazy, and it’s quite expensive to fly to see them. But…I have no regrets, and I’m in love with my life. I’m ready for L’hiver 2.0, far more ready than I was for my first Canadian winter.