The new Museum of Memory and Tolerance (Museo de Memoria y Tolerancia), downtown Mexico City. A real good, but emotionally tough, museum. As long as respect for political power is placed above the respect for human life and dignity, genocides will most definitely continue to stain our history.
Wagon that transported prisoner Jews in Poland
Tolerance (yes, there are mistakes, but at least there was a good intention behind it)
Weather plays a big part of our lives, whether it just sets different moods or whether it’s essential for (or even threatening to) survival. And every time we move countries we realise how differently weather affects us: Beirut with it’s almost eternal summer, Beijing with it’s radical change of seasons, and Toronto with no less radical season changes but, more importantly, with a long, cold winter. A winter deserving of its own post so "the truth be known!" (LOL)
First problem: when does winter start/end? Not a simple question, just google “winter” and see all the different ways of defining when it starts/ends. My solution: I decided on doing a small account of every month since our arms bid farewell to the sun (i.e., we started using jackets or sweaters) until we could finally welcome the sun bare-armed. Second problem: that approach resulted in a long post (but not as long as the winter we had to endure!). Solution: none, really, bar not reading the post, but that would be rude, wouldn't it! ;-) So here it is, a story of a winter in Toronto:
OK, yeah, definitely not winter, under any definition, and we could do without a jacket/coat abot half the time, except perhaps at night. In exchange for having to cover up more than occasionally we started seeing absolutely gorgeous reds and oranges (the wonders of autumn!). Only 3 of my FaceBook updates had to do with weather, but the one from the 20th is telling: “10 degrees already? Hmmm it might be time for me to acknowledge summer is definitely over...”
Foggy, cold days made their appearance, though we could still quite manage with a generic jacket/coat. And autumn’s beautiful colours were at their peak. You can tell I wasn't obsessing about weather yet, as only 5 of my FB updates talk about weather, BUT the one from October 20th read “Darn, it felt noticeably colder today. :-S”, the one from the 24th talked about cold, wet, windy, gray weather and the one from the 31st talked about the year’s first flurries (before coming to Canada, "flurries" was one of those funny winter/snow words I had never heard nor had any idea what they meant) packaged into a very light and short snowstorm which barely reached the ground... Still, nothing crazy or out of this world.
Hot drinks began to seem less like pleasure-items and more like I-can’t-do-without items. One unexpected surprise: as the days got shorter, I got to see more and more stunning sunsets from my office window. In fact, I posted 8 FB updates about weather, but all except one were about beautiful sunsets. I was still getting away, though barely, by wearing a warm coat. So far, so good!
Starting December 1st I couldn’t hold any longer and had to start wearing the full-gear: winter coat, scarf, gloves... We saw the first snowflakes to reach the ground and stay... which seemed kind of cute, even. And we started checking regularly what the "windchill" was: you see, cold weather is one thing, but when the wind blows it can feel way, WAY colder. We started December with windchills of -8ºC. Quite decent, actually, considering! December 6th we got the first real snowfall that actually stayed and didn’t melt right away. Not long after that, I decided to abandon the surface world (at least during workdays) and take refuge in the PATH (subterranean pathways that labyrinthically link most of downtown Toronto, including, luckily, the building in front of our place with my office’s building 1km away!). That still meant I had to get across the street to enter the PATH, but I was quite happy to endure 10-15 seconds of chilling temperatures in exchange for the freedom of not being burdened by the whole winter costume! LOL By December 13th we were getting windchills of -22ºC, although December 31st brought a windchil of 0ºC which, by then, felt almost like summer! Not surprisingly, I posted a total of SEVENTEEN FB updates about (COLD, freezing cold) weather.
It snowed. And snowed. And snowed. We got what I called on December 8th “a decent snowfall”. Winter boots became de rigueur (winter boot defined as waterproof, -40ºC resistant boots, please). By mid January we had the first day it was so frigging cold that I, who always pride myself on being able stand the cold reasonably well, was wondering how on earth had I agreed to a walk that day! (I had to wonder in silence, for I feared that, if my husband realised how cold it really was, or how cold I myself felt, he'd panic! lol) The nice thing: once you were securely and abundantly bundled up, walks in High Park were really really nice, with tons of snow and the chance to walk on the lake! By January 22nd windchills were reaching -37ºC (ie, bad*ss cold), and for the first time we saw ice-crystals forming on our windows. How many of my FB updates were about the weather? Why, 23!
Walking on the street facing the wind might not freeze your ears/jaw/fingers off, but man did it feel like it! Even when covered, spending too long outside made me feel weird, like feverish. As if it were not cold enough in Toronto, we made a quick trip north to Quebec City. A beautiful place, and I blogged plenty about it, but we saw all the snow and felt all the cold we could have needed, ever, and NOT wearing the full winter attire of winter boots, ear-muffs, a scarf, a winter hat, winter gloves, a winter jacket and preferably something warm underneath the jacket was NOT an option, anytime. By mid February I had had it with the snow. Like really fed up. Really. Toronto wasn’t as cold as Quebec City, for sure, but February was still "offering" windchills of -20ºC or so. And its fair share of snow. By then only 13 of my FB updates were about the cold weather: it was either getting marginally better, I was fed up, or I had given up.
March 21st traditionally marks the beginning of spring. And we did indeed have some sunny days. But it still snowed, occasionally. But, since it was already March, many of us took a step towards our mental well-being: we stopped using the whole winter garb and started wearing just jackets and avoiding gloves/scarves when possible (not my husband, though, he stuck to the winter uniform). I mean, we were still getting windchills of up to -16ºC, and it still snowed all of a sudden, but really, I was truely fed up with the cold and, along with many others, made the conscious decision to stop acknowledging winter. Winter, quite obviously offended by that act of defiance, sent one hell of a snowstorm on March 23rd. "Want spring? here! here's your 16cm of spring snow!" By this time, I not only fully understand why Canadians flock to the beaches to do nothing but roast, I begin to want to do the same myself. The craving for WARM sunshine started to turn into an obsession, and I started celebrating any periods of warm sunny weather (my definition or "warm weather" was, by then, something like "anything above 0ºC, please"). Yet my "only" 11 FB updates about cold weather did mean we could glimpse the end of this somewhere in the distance...
You do realise it's already April, and I'm still writing, right? Read on: some sleet, some fog... and then April 9th we were enjoying lunch, under the sun at a restaurant’s patio. The temperature: 7ºC. And it was WE, even my husband was enjoying it! (still wearing jackets, though) Like many good things, this didn't last, and soon after we were “enjoying” days with hail, sleet and, yes, even a bit of snow, almost a month after “spring began”. By this moment, my patience was wearing REAL thin and it looked like winter would never, ever end. And then, finally, nirvana on the 23rd: +10ºC and sunny! That was the FIRST day, the first! since September I could go out without any jacket or sweater at all! I went out (more like rushed out like a madman) and took all the warm sun I could, honestly. Same thing next day! And we even got another, 10ºC+ day before the end of the month! Granted, only three days like that, but elated doesn't even begin to describe how I felt, and about half of my 16 FB updates are about an ecstatic me praising the sun.
Up until mid-May, the weather still hovered at around 12ºC, and sunny days were still a hit-or-miss thing; the charm of the first few days at above 10ºC had definitely worn off and we all started wondering when the darn good weather was finally going to come. You could see many of us trying not to wear jackets/sweaters but, as soon as the wind blows or a cloud covers the sun, it feels a bit too cold for that! But today the temperature reached 19ºC! And tonight I could acrually go out without a jacket. Which, for me, definitely marks the end of winter. And though it'll get cooler again, and the forecast is rain, storms and rain, I've seen cherry blossoms and the bright green buds of new leaves on the trees. 16 Facebook updates regarding weather.