Winter in Ottawa by Susan R. Hughes


I’ve lived in this city most of my life, so you’d think I’d be used to our long, brutal winters. But I think I hate winter more every year. Maybe it’s because I’m more crunched for time than ever. It takes too long every morning to bundle reluctant preschoolers into snowsuits and then scrape away whatever snow, frost or ice has accumulated on the van during the night. Plus I hate being cold. I can’t stand the way my nose hairs freeze when I step outside. I hate it when an icy wind whips my hood off my head, as if to say “Hah! You think you can beat me by dressing warmly? Guess again.”


Beavertails pastry – Heaven sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon

When my sister and I were kids winter wasn’t so bad. My dad often took us skating and cross-country skiing. I complained constantly about being tired and cold, but the effort was worth it when we stopped to rest and Dad would pass out hot chocolate and warm our feet under his sweater. Sometimes we built snow forts in our yard or went sledding on the local hill. When my girls are a little bigger maybe we’ll do some of those things and winter (weekends at least) might seem more tolerable. After all, who can resist the Beavertails they sell on our famous Rideau Canal skateway?

At least it’s the right time of year to be working on my sequel to Sense of Touch. It takes place in the winter of 1947/48 and I decided to set it in the neighbourhood where my dad grew up. Britannia has since been swallowed into a suburb, but in those days it was a cottage community on the outskirts of the city. Some of the cottages were winterized for year-round residents, but they had no indoor plumbing. When I quizzed Dad about his childhood I wondered how the heck my grandmother coped with winter. She had to walk three blocks to fetch water from a spring for drinking and cooking. Bad enough having to trudge out to the back yard to use the toilet! Even on the coldest days she had to hang the wet laundry outside, where it would freeze stiff, and her hands would get chilblains (itchy blisters caused by exposure to cold). Having grown up on a farm, she was probably pretty tough. A lot tougher than me, I guess.

All I can do is hang in and wait for spring – there’s nothing like the euphoria of watching the snow recede and the irises in my front garden poke out of the ground. Just thinking about it, I can already feel the sun warming my shoulders.

For now, you’ll have to excuse me while I shovel the walk.


About susanrhughes

Susan R. Hughes is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and historical romance. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and three children.
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11 Responses to Winter in Ottawa by Susan R. Hughes

  1. Love the winter photo. I’m with you. It seems like winter is harder to take. I’m in Michigan US, so I’ve had my share of rough winters, too, and I can relate to everything in your post. Good luck with your sequel. Sip some of that hot chocolate and stay warm.


  2. Joan Reeves says:

    While the winter picture is lovely, I’ll take my Texas winter any day. Of course, inclement weather does make you stay in and probably have more time to write. Guess that’s the bright side, huh?


  3. Jill James says:

    I will yet again bless my lucky stars that I live in Northern California where 50 is freezing and when, oh when, will spring come. LOL If we want snow we have to drive to visit it. 🙂


  4. Beautiful snowy photo, and that beavertail and hot chocolate treat looks yummy too.
    I live in the Seattle area, and we’ve had a mild winter this year so I really can’t complain. I’m tired of the dark days, however, and looking forward to springtime flowers. Just yesterday I noticed shoots from hyacinth and daffodil bulbs poking through the mulch. It won’t be long now!


  5. susanrhughes says:

    It will be weeks before I see my irises. Sigh.


  6. leighmorgan1 says:

    Susan, your grandmother sounds more than tough…she sounds awesome! I’m right there with you, I can’t wait for Spring. It’s 40 here today and raining. Yesterday it was 12 degrees. Ick! Bring on the Blooms, I say. Hope your sequel is going well and that you stay warm and dry while writing. 🙂


  7. monarisk says:

    After living in Boston for years and then in Ohio, I don’t miss the cold and enjoy every minute of my Floridian weather. Your grandmother and mine were from a tougher generation and then they accepted their lots as they didn’t have a choice.


  8. Beaver tails? I want one! Hot chocolate with Bailey’s? I want to visit you!

    It wasn’t until I was an adult with children that I realized my dad used to take me sledding and ice skating because for a little while he got to be a kid again and play in the snow or on the ice. I was his excuse. I remember sitting on the floor with my boots on hoping that the wide double blade adjustable ice skates would fit. No protective gear in those days just layers of clothes, and a hat lined with bunny fur that tied under my chin and a hood over it. Then learning not to “walk” in skates, but rather push back to go forward. Being a kid in winter was fun.

    Now I’m thinking year-round temps of 70F/20C sound wonderful. I’m tired of being too hot or too cold.

    Looking forward to the next book. I remember those summer homes. I used to love to stay with my great aunt and great uncle in theirs. But they had a well pump in the kitchen.


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