The fur trade is lively, the winter is bitter cold, and it's normal to slaughter animals in the basement. This is eastern Canada in the 1900's; welcome to a true winter and real hunters. The cold is cold enough to give burns, and because of this harsh weather, Alice Munro describes the coating of the animal's thick fur. In "Boys and Girls," where there is luscious fur to be found, there is a fur trader as well.
It was custom of the fur traders in Canada to kill foxes for the purpose of selling the fur. The "naked, slippery bodies" of the skinned foxes in the basement gives us a gory image of an unkempt workspace for murder. This cold Canadian house in the heart of winter was typically bloody and overpowered with reek you could almost taste. The "smell of blood and animal fat" were enough to force someone away; however, the kids found the stench reassuringly seasonal.
This was their everyday life, if they wanted to make money, and it was a place to call home despite the horrifying sights and smells. It's hard to imagine what these old-fashioned families did to pass their time in the summer, when the fox's fur was not ripe.
Near this Hudson's Bay setting, the stale winds wrap around the house and yard, overwhelmed with snow. This frosty image also gives us a feeling of comfort from inside the house because the family embraces the animal smells, and considers them comforting and natural. To them, the slightly less cold house was a feeling of security and homeliness in the middle of a forest and the center of a snowstorm. Life was good during the daylight but nighttime caused a few more concerns.
The way the narrator talks about the house at...