The other night I was just about to drift off to sleep, all nestled snugly under my down-filled quilt, when a loud crack startled me. (You know the sound, the one where you swear the entire house is going to come down on your head at any moment.)
I knew the frightfully cold temperature that night was responsible for that shotgun snap, but this particular one was louder and sharper than any I had ever heard in the past. I silently wondered if our house and its beams could withstand the deep freeze weather it was enduring.
Just that day I had been reading an article where some romantic had penned, “Winters are never cold if you have warm memories.”
How utterly ridiculous! Obviously that person had never experienced a cold snap on the Canadian prairies. Nothing upsets Canadians more than some outsider telling us how to survive living in one of the coldest places on the planet. (And, yes, we have been colder than the Antarctic.)
Before someone offers an opinion on such weather-related matters, I suggest that person be required to endure two weeks of a Canadian winter when an Arctic front decides to move in and settle down for a long visit.
And if folks don’t have two weeks to spare, then standing at the corner of Wiggins and College in Saskatoon, on a day when the temperature drops to -35 and the wind comes howling up from the South Saskatchewan River at a brisk 40km/hour might suffice. (I can personally attest to those intolerable conditions. As a student I often walked to class at the University of Saskatchewan in frigid conditions and waited at that spot for the traffic light to allow me to cross – at a sprint I might add. Well, if you can call it a sprint when you’re dressed in five layers of clothing.)
“But it’s a dry cold,” offer our West Coast friends. Try telling that to someone whose eyelashes have a few centimetres of ice on them and resemble huge frozen butterflies. A “dry cold” is of little consolation when you can’t feel your fingers and toes anymore, or you have trouble breathing because your nostrils have frozen together.
I don’t think poet Robert Service was comforted by the so-called “dry cold” when he wrote, “Talk of your cold/ through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.” (Now there was a fellow who knew what he was talking about.)
I keep thinking, “This has to end soon.” But the brilliant, huge sun dogs in the sky and the tinny, crisp sound of the train whistle tell me otherwise.
I hope that by the time you read this column, Mother Nature will have relented. After all, she has already proven who’s the boss when it comes to the weather.
Photo credit - Marissa Fidek
(It is so cold that hot water freezes instantly when thrown into the air. Although it makes for a pretty picture, it's darn cold out there.)