Ten Sure Signs that Winter’s Here

It’s November, guys. I know this isn’t a news flash to most people considering it’s the 13th, but I’m still kind of boggled. When I lived on the West coast, November was simply another wet month, indistinguishable from any of the others. But now that I live out east I have come to the frigid conclusion that elsewhere in the world, winter is a Thing That Happens.

I love fall aka autumn aka Festive Fucking Gourd Season, so I’m pretty bummed to see it go. I know I can start celebrating fall’s arrival once the leaves change their hues, but how can you tell it’s over? Is it winter or is just a really blustery day? Is that guy wearing a Santa beard or did you just miss a memo on the current facial hair trend? I used to differentiate between the seasons by looking at my surroundings, but I’m pretty sure my neighbours have twinkle lights up year round and the retailers put out their Christmas decorations in August.

I am not applauding.

Sadly I have a few tells that make me concede defeat to mother nature’s wintry grasp and resign myself to spending a paycheque on a pair of Sorrels.

1. Three words: Frozen. Nose. Hairs.
2. Losing the ability to differentiate between 5am and 5pm.
3. Your initial observation that your city is overrun with smoking hot bois bundled in down jackets is sadly corrected once you hit on a disturbing number of underage boys.
4. Hibernation patterns + UHauling means your girlfriend is the only person you’ve seen in weeks.
5. The Alternative Lifestyle Haircut du jour is no longer the Undercut, Fro or Bieber, but the Toque.
6. All of your neighbours have traded in their fixies for skis.
7. The farmers’ market sole offering is kale, kale and more kale (which I’m okay with).
8. Everyone is completely tapped out of pumpkin beer.
9. The constant need for hand hydration unless you enjoy the sensation of fingerbanging with 50 grit sandpaper.
10. Five minutes of finger defrosting foreplay becomes a standard party of sexy times, along with the parka striptease.

What makes you admit defeat and embrace Jack Frost? I plan on drinking a ridiculous amount of mulled wine, hot toddies and blueberry tea and/or hibernate until A-Camp.

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Hailing from Vancouver, Kristen's still trying to figure out how to survive Montreal's Real Legitimate Canadian Winter. So far she's discovered that warm socks, giant toques and Tabby kittens all play a role in her survival. Her ultimate goal is to rank higher than KStew in the "Kristen + Autostraddle" Google Search competition.

Kristen has written 139 articles for us.


  1. Yes, this list is perfect. I hate winter too. And it is definitely winter here in Denver :(

    Best money ever spent: Mattress Warmer (it is like an electric blanket in the form of a fitted sheet).

    That only helps with the indoor chill. Nothing seems to help with the frozen nose hairs or the differentiation of possible dates from underage boys.

    • a) oh, man. i need a mattress warmer. that 18 degree morning i woke up to yesterday in denver was unpleasant in my lonely little bed.
      b) wool socks. smartwool is and must be part of every. single. outfit.
      c) honestly? i’m kind of looking forward to the super-cold days of colorado winters that necessitate wearing either underarmour, leggings, or tights underneath every pair of pants.

      • “i’m kind of looking forward to the super-cold days of colorado winters that necessitate wearing either underarmour, leggings, or tights underneath every pair of pants.”

        WHAT? You are craaaaazy.

        But yes to mattress warmers and smartwool and snuggly kitties. My cat just avoided me this entire summer because it was too warm and now she’s a super cuddler because it’s chilly and the heat in my apartment sucks.

        • agreed! cray cray. I hate wearing so much clothes. I want to wear as little clothing as possible. All those damn layer are so restrictive. I want to be free. . .

          But awoman about the smartwool.

          Oh and thermoses full of Bahkti Chai.

          • I am firmly in your camp when it comes to near nudity. My motto is definitely short shorts or bust.

            I feel like I should probably follow your lead when it comes to electric mattress warmers, but I think my eight-year old self is still getting over her fear of blanket-induced electrical fires. I think my mom told me too many tales of terror.

          • they are much much safer now. They have made many advancements in electrical devices you know. Seriously, you should get one.

            I actually own a few vintage muumuu’s that I cut off into mini dresses. They are the BEST. Fabric is only touching your shoulders, that’s it. It’s the closest I can get to nudity in public without being arrested.

          • As a person who gets cold in Vancouver, smartwool/merino wool/teko long underwear/shirts/socks. From October to May. Heaven/saviours.

        • i mean, it could have something to do with the fact that i’ve been pretty single for a really really long time and wearing lots of very snuggly layers makes me feel held and loved?

          • and god, that makes me sound so pathetic and i’m actually not even all that single anymore, but. i’m morally opposed to snuggies and leggings + pants + layers of warm clothes is the other best way to get snuggly and cozy.

      • 18 is nothing!! Thats like…What? -7 celsius? Last week it was already -20 celsius (-4 farenheit)with a foot of snow in Calgary AB.

        If only there was somewhere in Canada that was warm during the winter…

        • 18 Was just our coldest temp yet. We are just getting started. But it def never gets as bad as canada. Sorry for you :(

      • I’m so sorry!!! I clicked “report user” while trying to scroll down!!!! Darn touch screens!!!! I’m sorry!!

  2. Winter last for about a week in Texas, but when it does come I usually stay inside protesting against it by wearing tank tops and booty shorts (because that will make it go away yeah?) and staring out the window like a confused puppy. My mind cannot comprehend cold air.

  3. I’m pretty sure this is just a list of 10 reasons I’m happy to be in the southern hemisphere.

  4. Since I’m in the NW I try to ignore winter and just wear a jacket and a t-shirt for as long as possible. Some years I pretty much make it to spring with no major hangups other years not so good.
    The other way is that my muscle cars don’t really like ice/snow/rain/slush or anything other than clear dry summer roads, but I drive them year round and once I start to slide or spin I know the seasons have changed :(

  5. “The constant need for hand hydration unless you enjoy the sensation of fingerbanging with 50 grit sandpaper.”

    UGH. Yes. My hands get so dry that normal lotion makes them upset and bust out in hives which is real sexy let me tell you, so I have to use a combination of vaseline on parts and hardcore hand cream on other parts EVERY NIGHT. Ughhhhhh. Fucking dry winter.

    • I have tubes of glysomed and udderly smooth stashed on my person at most times. I miss the days when I could absent mindely slather on coco lime verbena. Sigh.

    • eech, I feel ya. I not only live in a cold climate, I ride a bike nearly year-round, work with kids, and work with dirt and plants…which means I’m constantly a) scrubbing my hands and b) exposing them to cold weather.

      suffice to say, I buy cocoa butter lotion in bulk.

  6. “9. The constant need for hand hydration unless you enjoy the sensation of fingerbanging with 50 grit sandpaper.”

    That is the funniest/truest/saddest thing I have read all day. I live in western MA (NoHo, specifically) and it is clearly winter here when my down vest is not an option, and I have to let my car heat up before I can drive it.

  7. I love winter for making curling up in a down comforter, drinking hot cocoa with rum, and reading such an appealing option.

  8. FROZEN NOSE HAIRS! When I first arrived in Canada, it took me the longest time to figure out what the fuck was happening up there. I’ve never been so aware of my nostrils.

  9. i only just unpacked my scarves for this frigid 40 degree weather i’ve had to brave in the land of texas.
    i’ve never really understood the concept of “winter”

  10. Winter is the perfect time to suggest to that new lady in your life that you vigorously rub your legs together to spark a camp fire. No seriously. It works. Keep going.

  11. I am eagerly awaiting winter, I need an excuse to break out the glögg early, but nope, the weather seems to be thoroughly stuck in Mild Autumn. I even took precautions and brought out the winter coat and boots after we got early snow last week! And then November decides to disappoint. I mean, my winter clothes are totally awesome and all, but somehow lose their appeal when I feel like I’m melting after even the lightest exercise.

  12. Ireland is so bland I usually say its winter when it stops being orange and red and starts being brown and grey, other than that it rains all year round anyway so you can’t really tell : /

  13. Oh, I hate winter. But I am glad to have the excuse to hang out with a mug of hot cider containing apple slices, a cinnamon stick, and just enough spiced rum. YUM.

    • but is it ironic if you’re wearing them for actual warmth purposes? because that’s what I’m doing right now.

      • oh then you’re clearly wearing post ironic neo Cosby sweaters. Either way I approve and need to stock up myself

  14. Full-spectrum lamp, plants, regae, zubas, and breakfast-aritas. A few buzzed sun salutations and I can almost convince myself the sun will be up for more than four hours. Almost.

  15. I live in the northeast, so I know it’s winter when it gets to be fucking cold outside. Some years this happens earlier than others. Also when my friends start posting photos of Starbucks red cups on every social media platform. (I personally don’t really like Starbucks coffee, it always tastes burnt to me, but some people get super excited over those red cups.)

      • I feel weird about the red cups too. Hansen, I feel like a holiday themed travel mug tutorial should be on your to do list.

    • The red cups emerging just reminded me that I can make my own coffee-and-eggnog drinks (aka, DIY eggnog lattes) as soon as eggnog is available in stores. Guys, is it available yet?!?! I did this ALL December last year.

  16. Winter is so brief here in Georgia so we don’t really get to enjoy it. It’s actually in the upper/mid 60s right now so I’m still rockin’ shorts and Chacos to go with my oh-so-fashionable knee-brace.

    The closest we get to winter is random cold snaps. In fact, last year was the first year we’d had snow on Christmas since the Civil War.

  17. Move to Houston! Actually I miss the seasons. But not the constant moisturizing required. My hands and face are baby soft. :) Living in the swamp is like having a (pollution-ridden) facial every day!

    • Whiskey in ginger ale bottles…hmmm…I gotta remember that one.

      Can we add to the list the fu<king foot of snow you have to remove from fu<king everything before you can do fu<king anything?

      • I knoooow… I impulse-bought a snow shovel and threw it in my back seat this weekend. Now the trick will be tunneling to my car to retrieve the snow shovel…

  18. Now that it’s starting to get down below 60 degrees, I can sadly no longer live in my flip flops. Winter in California is a difficult time.

  19. I’ve been adding rum or bourbon to all of my drinks. ALL OF THEM. This is how I cope with the fact that it’s basically pitch-black outside and it’s freaking 4:15 pm. Unacceptable. On the plus side, I’m buying all kinds of cute, brightly-colored hats. So. There’s that. *slurps rum-cider drearily*

  20. 2. Losing the ability to differentiate between 5am and 5pm.

    Oh my goodness, this JUST happened on Friday. I took a nap at 2 PM and when I woke up at 5, it was so dark that I wasn’t sure which 5:00 it was (thankfully, it was 5 PM).

  21. Man it has just barely started to get cool here in Texas. What it must be like to live in a place with seasons…

  22. it took me forever to figure out that a toque really is NOT a hairstyle but a Canadian word for beanie… oops

  23. One nice thing about winter: Stanfield’s Winter Longs. Guaranteed to cure at least 60% of S.A.D.

  24. 11) You slip in a patch of ice while jogging and bust your ass/back/head.
    This totally happened to me today. Yay for winter in Colorado!

  25. Having just moved back to the west coast, I’m so happy I don’t have to deal with the frozen temperatures and snow anymore. But, I gotta say, I’m starting to miss that thing where you occasionally see the sun. Vancouver is starting to seem mighty gloomy.
    Anyways, toques for life!

  26. Winter arrives in NOVEMBER in some places?! I’ve had my car plugged in at night since the beginning of October. Places that are not Winnipeg sound so warm.

    • I assume you mean engine block heater. I bet alot of people who have November starting winters don’t even know those exist! Unless you’re talking about some fancy plug in electric car!

  27. So I am currently sitting on my back porch in my boxers enjoying another beautiful night in Florida. Looking forward to a high of 85 tomorrow but this article make me miss the Colorado winters of my childhood…just a little bit.

  28. Speaking as a somewhat butch lesbian, I am glad for the chance to bust out my charming sweaters and my dashing peacoat and my boots and be mistaken for an underage boy. Winterwear is my favorite!

    Though London has not been that cold, I’d have to say, and this is coming from a Californian import who usually thinks winter indicates a time to wear closed toed shoes and a light jacket.

  29. I can’t enjoy mulled wine because Trader Joe’s hasn’t yet brought back their mulling spices this season. Help a queer out, TJ”s, I can’t afford all those spices individually.

  30. I moved to Washington state from SoCal this spring and apparently the first sign that winter is here is the fact that it is DARK at four PM. Not OK.

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