The Wind is Out of the North


English: Wind Swept Trees in Winter

Wind swept trees

On the prairie, a shifting wind signals change.  The wilder the wind, the most significant the change and direction counts too. Typically, the biggest change is in temperature, but the wind gusts, bellows and batters regardless of the highs or lows it is carrying.

During the night, the wind picked up and began rattling this old house again. The first indication that Not Winter was about to be booted was a gust that swept the idle snow shovel off the back deck, resulting in an unsettling crash that sent Rob in search of the source. A noise has to be disturbing on an emotional level to rouse him to investigate. Throughout the wee hours, the wind gathered fury. Windows rattled. Timbers creaked.

Sleeping as we do on the upper level imparts the false impression that we are at the mercy of the elements. The wind is especially good at reminding us that no structure is really all that impervious.

Winter and Not Winter (I haven’t decided if it’s Fall who hasn’t left or Spring that wants to come early) have locked horns again. Back in Iowa, this is the time of year when Spring will try to push her way past Winter’s defenses. She may even set up residence for a while, thumb her pretty nose at Winter’s ruddy one, but she never outlasts him. Here, January thaws have not been much in evidence since we moved up from the States. Winter comes. It stays. And Spring loses battle after battle from March til early May when Winter simply can’t cope with the warming of the earth and the persistence of the sun anymore. Even then, Spring is a cool creature, whose idea of the season is decidedly out of character with this Midwestern girl’s recollections of her.

Thus far, there has been little snow and much more ice than northern Canadians are accustomed to encountering. The lack of snow suits me fine. It will snow the first week of May, mark my words, so the longer it holds off, the less depressed I will be about it.  But chilly and ice and damp wet, I can live quite nicely without. All it brings is ripe conditions for disease and allergies. It makes it impossible to wear my most comfy Ugg boats, causes my fingers and toes to ache and too rapidly depletes the washer fluid as I battle the big rigs that clog the main thoroughfares in town.

Twenty something below tonight, they say. It will warm a bit and then plummet even further next week. The extended forecast is a flurry of flakes and bitter temps. This is January though. This is Winter. Not the mild-mannered impostor we’ve been entertaining since before the holiday.

It’s fifty something (and that’s fahrenheit not our celsius) in Iowa today. Which is not unusual. It was nearly that in celsius here over the weekend. And that is odd, but not in a four horsemen kind of way.

I prefer my slice of Alberta dry – for breathing related reasons -  and if it comes with a side of really cold, so be it. With May not as far away as it was in November, I am ready for winter. Probably.

The Northern Lights


Some Inuit believed that the spirits of their ...

Image via Wikipedia

I hadn’t seen the Northern Lights once since moving to Canada four years ago. Scientific explanation for their absence from the night sky centered around the lack of activity on the surface of the sun. Despite looking quite active, the sun’s surface has been cooler in the past few years, fewer flares and no sun spots. This has some sort of dampening effect on the phenomena known as the aurora borealis.

But last night as I was finishing up in the downstairs bathroom, Rob called for me to come upstairs quick.

Northern Lights!

According to him, they were not very impressive last night. He’s seen better and much like my take on the bison in Yellowstone this summer, he’s not that awed because they are a fixture in his life. They have always been.

I was pretty impressed though with my “northern exposure” moment.

The sky here fascinates me generally. The way the clouds stack up so close to the horizon they seem within grasp and the way the sky curves to meet the distant edge of the earth. Sometimes, it’s almost claustrophobic, the sky seems to loom so close.

Northern Lights are mainly a winter phenomena. Their sudden appearance this last week does not bode well for a lengthy fall season, which is a bit depressing given the fact that the last of Edmonton’s snow from this last winter has only just melted away.

But it was awesome to see the lights snake across the dark expanse last night.