Canadian winters

Winter of 2007-2008 in Ottawa, Canada.

Winter of 2007-2008 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


When we visited Iowa over the summer, my sister, DNOS, maintained it would be an early fall and winter.


“My knees know,” she proclaimed with the authority of one of those grande dames you always see in the movies.


Rob tends to dismiss anything not based in actual science, which includes not only the Farmer’s Almanac but DNOS’s knees.


“How can her knees in Iowa predict the weather for us 1500 miles away in Western Canada?” he said, and it’s a fair question, but it doesn’t discount the fact that it snowed last week a few times. Just light flurries here and there. Enough to dust lawn and foliage.


And then the day before Halloween, snow began to pile up. Not alarmingly so until a blustery snow moved in Halloween night just as the kids were beginning to make the rounds for Trick or Treat and then transformed into a determined snowstorm.


“It’s snowing like a bastard,” I informed my husband when Dee and I returned from making our rather solitary rounds to collect candy with a side trip to the bookmobile.


“You are sounding more Canadian all the time,” he marveled.


Yesterday I took to the road and trekked into The Park. Travel was not being advised but when one lives in a winter prone area, one cannot always count of advisable travel in the face of shit that needs to be done.


The ladies at the yoga studio, while admiring my fortitude, told me that next time I should just call and tell them I will be a day late. I needed to drop off applications for a training program and pay fees. The deadline was the 1st and even though I’d talked to the program’s instructor and she knew I was registering, I still like to make deadlines.


Adam the radio host was rambling about 5 to 10 centimeters expected when I left the studio and headed for the mall, but clearly that mark was off already. It must be disheartening to be a meteorologist because the margin for error is high and near instantly noticeable. Unlike say, the POTUS, you can’t magic statistics around to hide when you are a bit, or a lot, off.


I needed to pick up a dressy outfit for Dee at the mall. Grade Five hosts the Remembrance Day assembly.


“I need black earrings,” she said.


Even her earrings need to be somber to the point of mournful.


I love the lead up to Remembrance Day. Everyone sports a poppy on their lapels and Dee runs around the house singing “Flanders Field”, a depressing dirge but oddly inspiring.


“It’s funny that for Canadians the big war is World War I but for the Americans, it is the Second World War,” I mentioned to Rob later in the shower.


Rob snorted a bit, “That’s because the Americans barely showed up for the first war.”


Indeed, their appearance wasn’t as noteworthy as the share of credit they give themselves for that particular engagement.


Aside from bum windshield wipers, the arrival of winter hasn’t been remarkable. Earlier than it has even been since I have lived here, but Rob assures me I just haven’t lived here long enough. In Alberta there really is no norm for the timing of snow.


Last year the warm weather hung around until nearly Halloween and snow took it’s time arriving and buggered off early in the spring. I don’t think that will be the case this year. But we had a decent warm summer for a change, so I will find contentment in that and just give in to the change of seasons. It’s the yoga thing to do.


I was up early this morning. Like quarter to three early. And though I tried to get back to sleep, it eluded me completely to the point that I woke Rob with all my tossing and when I decided to allow him to rest by retreating from our bedroom to the office downstairs for some mindless blog surfing – he wasn’t far behind because he can’t sleep if I am not there (he tried the pillow thing first but found it inferior – to my tossing and turning, I guess). So, why was I up? I have been sleeping really well, but between the yoga instructor who decided we need to “pop” our hip flexors yesterday and the fact that I had to drive into town uber early this morning to go to the hospital for labs (all that fun blood-work doctors like us old folk to do with increasing frequency once you hit that “old people” demographic) – my mind just couldn’t find a slow enough frequency for sleep.

Rob convinced me (or I convinced him) to head back to bed about 5:30 to try for another hour of sleep. The hospital lab opened at 7:30AM and I wanted to be there then to avoid waiting. Waiting be the common denominator of all things medical here in Canada. As it turned out, I didn’t get back to sleep until nearly 6 and then overslept, getting up finally at 7:20. I vaguely remember a dream that was mostly me crying but I don’t remember why and both things bothered me for a while as I hurriedly dressed and scampered out into the frigid air. There is something about deadly cold that implies hurry even when the air itself seems to hold you motionless and suspended in the moment. After much frustration, Rob had found the heater block plug and cable on my Equinox, which was undoubtedly built for Soccer moms in Texas, and I wrestled with the connection because the last thing Rob reminded me of as I left was to not forget to unplug the car before driving off. My vehicle only reluctantly gave up its warming charge and I nearly had to be frostbitten in the process. The interior wasn’t exactly warm but it wasn’t the outside either. Cold like this hurts. It stings the skin and slices the lungs. I tired to warm my bum up at least but the seat heater refused to stay engaged. Like the dvd player, it doesn’t work in icy temps (to be fair to the seat, the dvd player is a wuss at even warmer temperatures).

The plants were spewing heavily and the fog that wasn’t too think in our little hamlet was a curtain over the town. I guessed at the location of intersections and exits which isn’t too dangerous in the evening when the workers have gone back to Edmonton and the truck traffic has thinned but during what constitutes morning rush here is more than chancey. I couldn’t even see the hospital as I drove by trying to divine the entrance to the parking lot. A lucky guess and I found a near deserted lot. The front doors were closed due to the cold, so I was let in through the ambulance bay by a patient who was having a smoke, standing outside the door in his jammies and robe – tethered to an IV pole.

I survived the blood draw. The trick is not to look. But, I couldn’t pee into the cup. I hate when that happens. So now I have a cup of pee to deliver after I take Katy into school today and it will be another afternoon of hanging around in town because the school buses aren’t running again. Katy rather enjoys this because first of all, her class is unbelievably small. Seven kids yesterday and that was because three of the all day kids showed up. Today it will be just her afternoon group. On days when the buses don’t run, school is open but parents are allowed to decide whether or not to send their kids. A neat way to avoid having to make up missed school days at the end of the year. Of course the year here ends on June 28th. Not a bad thing because kids then begin the new school year after Labor Day and it makes more sense when the warm weather really only arrives with July. Canada Day is the second of July and I am pretty sure I was in long pants and sleeves that day.

Frosty weather is interesting up here. The trees are white with crystals and the wood beneath the siding cracks like trees. All night long I could here the the house popping in protest. The padding on my fingertips is tender from exposure and I have dry skin itch for the first time this winter. The forecast for the week puts us back up into the minus teens by the weekend which you wouldn’t think would be an improvement until its -40C with wind chills even lower. I am glad to have had the opportunity to experience a real Canadian winter in terms of cold but I would have settled for just the Northern Lights – which haven’t materialized as of yet.