With Environment Canada issuing almost daily extreme cold warnings, you may want to put up your feet and experience the bitter temperatures vicariously, from the comfort of an armchair, warming drink at hand.
The Kawartha Lakes libraries can help you with that. Here’s a sampling from the collection: a memoir, a short story, and a film, all of which will supply chills aplenty.
First up is a memoir, The Worst Journey in the World (1922) by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, named by National Geographic as the greatest adventure story of all time.
Cherry-Garrard was a member of Robert Scott’s Antarctic expedition, though, fortunately for him, not part of Scott’s fatal push to the South Pole. It was Cherry who narrowly missed rescuing the party and who later led the search party that found the frozen corpses.
Perhaps the most harrowing trek he describes was carried out in the total darkness of an Antarctic winter, months before Scott set out. The author and two companions pulled two sledges carrying 318 kilograms of gear on a 35 day round-trip to collect emperor penguin eggs.
How cold was it?
Some of Cherry’s teeth shattered, and at one point the three got frostbitten while inside their reindeer-pelt sleeping bags.
For more about this complex explorer you could ask for Sara Wheeler’s 2002 Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry Garrard. (If this — or or any other item is not available right away — you’ll be put on a waiting list and contacted when it’s ready).
A classic short story next: Jack London’s To Build a Fire, available in a collection entitled, unsurprisingly, To Build a Fire. Here are a couple of sentences from the opening paragraph:
“Day had dawned cold and gray when the man turned aside from the main Yukon trail…The Yukon lay a mile wide and hidden under three feet of ice. On top of this ice were as many feet of snow.”
A man (never given a name) new to the far north, a single sled-dog, a poorly-marked trail, and a few matches. What could possibly go wrong?
A recommended film, available for streaming through the Library’s Hoopla service is Never Cry Wolf, based on Farley Mowat’s memoir of a winter in the Canadian Arctic studying wolves (and at one point dining on mice).
The film, made in 1983, was beautifully shot on location by cinematographer Carol Ballard. Not a spoiler, I hope, but the 30 seconds showing an Arctic hare’s twitching nose just might be the most suspenseful and chilling 30 seconds in Canadian film history.
If you’d prefer to read or listen to Never Cry Wolf instead, the library also has hardcover, large print, e-book, and audio book versions for borrowing.
That’s just a sampling. Visit any of the 14 branches or check out the library’s website and you’ll find your own wintry delights.
Maybe a Gordie Howe or Wayne Gretzky bio? Or maybe a bleak Scandinavian crime novel such as Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman or Arnaldur Indridason’s Hypothermia (set in Iceland)?
Baby, it’s cold inside, too!