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The Grape Years Weblog

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January 24, 2005
Villers-La-Faye, Burgundy - France

La Québécoise

The temperature is hovering at about five below, and there’s still plenty of snow on the ground. I can only think of one thing I don’t like about the snow, and that thing is quite specific to being here in Burgundy.

Excerpt from Victoria's Official Tourism site

" Located in a sub-Mediterranean zone, Victoria BC boasts the mildest climate in Canada. Victoria receives an average of 2,183 hours of sunshine each year, with flowers in bloom year-round and an eight month frost-free season. [...] Spring arrives as early as February and is mild."

February in Victoria
February in Victoria!

Whenever it snows here, or even when the thermometer falls below freezing, I am bombarded with comments along the lines of, “This weather must make you feel right at home!” and “I’m sure this doesn’t feel that cold to you.”

Never mind that I have explained to everyone until I’m blue in the face that in fact I’m from the West Coast of Canada, from an island in the Pacific Ocean where it rarely snows, and where the climate is actually far more temperate than in Burgundy.

No use. For the majority of the French, Canada IS Québec. Therefore, Canada means snow, and trappers, and maple syrup.

Rather than disappoint, which I’ve generally found is the upshot of going into a lengthy description of the microclimate of Southern Vancouver Island, I’ve adopted a new persona – that of a hardy Canadian girl who can mush dogs and tramp through glacial temperatures without getting frostbite.  This is far less tiring, and, so far, seems to make everyone happy.

Yesterday was particularly windy and frigid, and as I tramped through the village to buy a baguette from the boulangerie, I was stopped by a women whom I'd recently met who was on her way home for lunch.  After rolling down her car window, she said bonjour and exclaimed that she would never be caught dead walking outside in such weather, but then hastily added that it must be different for me as I am from Canada.

“Yes, I don’t mind the cold,” I remarked with studied modesty.

We go on another walk today, again pulling the girls on the sled, and we meet our friend Jean-Yves along the way. We’ve already had a snowball fight in the driveway, so we probably look like a family of abominable snowmen.

“Shame on you Laura!” Jean-Yves admonishes me, after we do the customary round of bises, and Jean-Yves and Franck share a manly handshake. “It’s freezing out and you’re not even wearing a bonnet.”

I laugh throatily through my ice-encrusted scarf. “Mais Jean-Yves, you forget that I am CANADIAN!”

“Oh yes,” he says with a huge smile. “How could I have forgotten?”

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© 2005, Story by Laura Bradbury  & Photos by Franck Germain - All Rights Reserved.

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