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The Seven Types of Cold

A List of our Season's Demons...

By Kendall Defoe Published 2 years ago 5 min read
The Seven Types of Cold
Photo by Thom Holmes on Unsplash

As a Canadian, I am often asked, “Why?” This question, of course, confuses me until I realize that the person who poses it wants a clear answer about the weather. Over the last week, winter has asserted itself in my adopted hometown of Hampstead, Quebec (a Montreal suburb with more quiet than I deserve). Ice is now hidden under a dusting of snow, and it is very hard to take a step without the feeling that you are about to connect to pavement and asphalt in a very painful and intimate way. I do understand why the question exists.

But there is another issue with this time of year that many of us brave Canuckistanians never successfully debate: why stay in such a cold climate aware that it will last for almost four to five months? I could blame restrictions on travel due to Covid-19, the lack of money and time necessary for a vacation, or a more permanent move, or even the idea that our winters are the price we pay for the wonderful summers (believe it or not, I would not summer anywhere else but Canada; why remove yourself to worse heat at a tourist trap where you have to pay for the privilege of being robbed, served bad food, and denied a true portrait of the other half of the world?).

No, none of these excuses work. I think the real issue is knowing what we are facing when winter rears itself and suddenly we have to resort to parkas, shoe grips for that hidden black ice, and invasive weather. Yes, it is invasive. Yes, I am talking about the cold.

As far as I can tell, Canadians have to deal with seven types of cold. If anyone wants to expand on my list, they are free to do so, but I feel that this list is as complete as any could be if I wanted to give a fair portrait of what winter is like in my homeland.

So, here are the colds that we all know and should expect during this season:

By Darren Viollet on Unsplash

The Bus Stop Cold

It takes a special kind of person to withstand this one, and I have long and detailed experience of winters where it seemed like the chill in the air was inescapable and determined to pull you down. It does not exist on indoor subway platforms, and I would argue that it would also not be comparable to outdoor subway platforms. For one thing, it does not last as long as the bus stop freeze (subways tend to show up a little bit faster than city buses). Honestly, I think that there might be some sort of inverse relationship between the lack of bus appearances and low temperatures. The best thing to do is to huddle for warmth with strangers and hope that there is 1) a shelter and 2) that no one wants to hog that very narrow seat for themselves.

By 𝔸𝕧𝕒 𝕋𝕪𝕝𝕖𝕣 on Unsplash

The Cold Feet Cold

This could also be known as the foot cold and it is the type that invades your toes, calves, ankles and soles when you expect it least. It often pairs with dry air that does not circulate well under your desk or chair and leaves you wondering if your limbs have atrophied or rotted away internally. I find it worse when I am fully set with track pants and hoodie and begin typing away another story, poem or piece…like this. Not even socks can help you once you have let it stake a claim on one of the most important parts of your body. Beware!

Walk, Don't Run.

The Snow-Clearing Cold

This will always be accompanied by a particular type of wind – your own personal air pocket – that manages to get the most painful particles of snow into any orifice you thought was covered and kept safe from the weather. I have found this to be much worse walking than jogging (a very strange phenomenon). You can combat it with a balaclava and goggles, but there will always be the chance that you have missed something vital (is that scarf really as tight as it could be?). Look out for it during blizzards and squalls.

The Walk-to-the-Car Cold

Disagree with me all you want about this one, but I believe that this is a very specific type of cold that can only be suffered by car owners, or those who rely on car owners to get them away from the cold. I have experienced this in garages that remained unheated and in plenty of open parking lots near malls, community centres, schools and the like. Not quite like the Bus Stop Cold, it is more or less worse because of anticipation. You know that there is a big metal box that you can heat up over a period of time, but you have to get it open first. Too many difficult-to-find car keys and forgotten parking sections have made it very pernicious. And there is not any sort of association to bail you out.

How many do you need?

The Not-Enough-Layers Cold

I admit to guilt in not providing myself with enough protection from this one. Often, I find that I am either too cold or too hot when I hear that the weather has reached a particular extreme. Most of the weakness I feel over this is usually below the waist. I still prefer jeans on my days off, and wearing thicker trousers or long johns underneath them makes me very uncomfortable, more uncomfortable than the sweat or chills to come. This is easily solved if you experiment and find the right combination for your body type. I have yet to find out which sets of fabrics and materials are best for me. Wish me luck.

The Unseen Cold

As anyone who has lived in a cold climate knows, there is always the cold that you cannot detect. It may be the worst one of the group. You have always to be on your guard against that slight ventilation you feel dancing rudely up your back. You must watch out for that cold grip on the ears that grows at the lobes and somehow manages to reach the inner canals and drums. You have the possibility of a red nose that you did your best to avoid with a scarf made of cheap acrylic. And you also have the chance of losing toes and fingers despite the heaviness of your socks or mittens. A very nasty beast, indeed.

And finally…

Let us pray...

Wicked Cold

I have a very hard time with this last one. The problem I have with it is that my definition of it will not be the same as your definition of it. It is tempting to pick one of the other six types of colds as the most beastly and nasty one out there. But the cold that I have decided to leave to the end of my list is so brutal, so abnormal, and possibly so dangerous, that I leave it to you to provide a definition for it.

I await your wise and informed notes.


About the Creator

Kendall Defoe

Teacher, reader, writer, dreamer... I am a college instructor who cannot stop letting his thoughts end up on the page.

And I did this: Buy Me A Coffee... And I did this:


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  • sleepy drafts3 months ago

    Oh gosh, I could feel each layer of cold as I read about them. Fantastic piece! This is so creative (and also very true, lol.)

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