I googled “Winterlude?” exactly like that, with the question mark, at work one afternoon. On a different afternoon in that same office, I was shamed for this question mark habit. I forget what I was googling. Something to do with food probably. “Where can I buy proper bacon in Toronto?” Something like that. Everyone laughed and I did too. It is funny. A question mark creates an inflection. Winterlude? There’s a pleading quality to a question mark search, a raising of shoulders. Help me, Google. Help. Me.
The first search engine I ever used was Ask Jeeves so I’m bound to have strange internet habits. In this context, though, the question mark felt entirely appropriate. I had questions about Winterlude that I didn’t yet have the language for. Would Winterlude help me to overcome my deep hatred for snow? Would Winterlude make winter in Canada feel bearable? And, more importantly, could the sub-zero conditions of Winterlude thaw a chill I was feeling that winter that had nothing to do with the weather at all.
Winterlude, according to the Canadian government’s website, was created to celebrate Canada’s unique northern climate and culture. The festival is held in Ottawa-Gatineau each February. Come to Winterlude, the website implores, and “rediscover the joys of winter.”