Hibernate

It’s that time of year where I find myself hunkering down and taking a step back from my busy life. Partly because December is so hectic with gatherings and special events, it’s nice to sit around and expect very little of yourself. It helps that the weather has been a wee bit on the cool side. -51C windchills anyone? The wind has been a tad brisk. Today is the first day we opened the curtains and let the sun in. Why? Normally we keep them shut as an added insulation barrier to the wind that whips out of the north. It is -17C and quite frankly, it feels like spring.

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The view from my home office. 

I read once that how you react to winter is a metaphor for how you react to life. I take it in stride.

Coping with cold does take more effort and thought. For example, I have to plug my car in. Not because it is electric, but because the block heater warms the oil pan and it makes it easier to start. I plug it in when I get home and I also plug it in at work. It adds an extra five minutes each time. Not a huge deal except I am outside struggling with frozen cords praying the end doesn’t snap off like it has before – that is a major hassle if you have never done electrical work before. Things break easily is this type of cold.

Dressing for cold takes thought. I work in a glass building. Sure there is central heat, but it still feels cool. I have a blanket and pashmina at my desk. I wear wool socks, and usually have a base layer, mid-layer and outer layer. When I only have two layers, the blanket comes out for my lap. As I get tired near 3:00 p.m., I find I get cold. Pot of tea and my pashmina help to perk me up. I always wear a scarf and an extra wool scarf for outside. Winter takes effort.

Eating is also a change to the regular. The last thing I want is a salad. Give me hearty soup and crusty bread. Soup for days is my motto. Bread and baked goods make the house smell delicious, warm and welcoming. It is comforting to eat at home when it is cold.

At home, the curtains are drawn and the fireplace is on. Quilts on chairs and sofas to snuggle with in front of the fire while watching tv or reading. The duvet on the beds and long hot showers are the best part. I don’t like going anywhere so I cancel plans and stay home. We have lived through two weeks of this. Now, as a reward the weather is moving up to single negative numbers it will feel like a treat.

Weather in Canada seems to be a competition. The Prairies are better at it than Vancouver, but Newfoundland is better at it than Alberta. When I lived in Yellowknife, NWT, cold and dark was a way of life. Too cold for your car to start but you went to school or work anyway. If you didn’t, you would never get anything done. Same as Edmonton. I missed work once because of a blizzard in 1988. It rained, covered my car in an inch of ice and then it snowed so much it buried my car. It took most of the day to dig my car out. The roads were closed anyway, so there was no way I was getting out of my town to drive into the city. I was late once because my car didn’t start but a new battery helps that from happening again. So this year, that didn’t happen. As a child, I never missed school because schools never closed. It is what it is. Weather is relative. What is hard for us prairie folk is harder for Lower Mainland folk and the thought of surviving winter on the Rock is unfathomable yet here they are, surviving.

Tofino residents were still surfing this week in spite of the fact they walked through the snow to get to the water. I get that. Winter is a metaphor for how you face life. You either hide and complain, or you get out there and enjoy it.

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www.paullevyphoto.com posted on @pacificsufco 

The sun is on its way back to me. It is setting as I leave work now. This makes it feel like spring is coming. It is rejuvenating to see the sun as I warm up my car and unplug my car. Do I hate winter? No. I love the dense sound when it’s cold. The crunch of the snow and event the frosty feeling in my lungs. It makes me feel alive. Cold snaps help me appreciate spring and summer. I am planning my garden and dreaming of my summer vacation. This year I have decided to not plan around anyone. I am taking the vacation I want without accommodating other people. I am spending my one week at a retreat between the Monashee and Cariboo Mountain Ranges and then one week staycation at home hanging out in my beautiful city.

I can’t imagine living somewhere where the four seasons don’t exist. Winter is the perfect time to hibernate, relax and enjoy the cozy warmth of inside and all the great things about home.

Not Wordless Wednesday: Edmonton Tornado Warning

I was finishing up a proposal for an ethics paper when Environment Canada issued a Tornado Warning. A warning is scarier than a watch because funnel clouds were spotted. I was going to post my Wordless Wednesday for today but I am too shaken to stay quiet. Surprised? Ha! Don’t be.

This isn’t my first rodeo. I have lived to tell the tale of many of prairie storm, including the bad one in July 87 where 23 people died from a direct result of that tornado. I remember Pine Lake and I have survived plow winds and flooding. Today had me nervous like the one in ’87.

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My daughter was sent home early today – that was worrisome, the storm must be bad.

The Sky was green – also a bad sign.

The hail smashed my flowers – thankful I don’t need to eat my flowers, feeling bad for the farmers.

The wind was brutal – kept listening for the ‘freight train’ sound – luckily it never came in my neck of the woods.

Hunkered down in my basement with my kids, listening to the weather outside and on TV. None of it was hopeful. Yet all I could think was “I am glad I got my hill repeats in before the tornado.” HA! I must be a runner.

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Then the rain and wind stopped. Twitter had a great lot of pics tagged #yegwx that showed off the storm. This is the not so Wordless Wednesday.

 

Winter, you are a jerk

Winter is being a jerk.

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I was sitting in my office on, APRIL 19th, and looked out my window. Snowflakes the size of quarters were coming down. Had it been Christmas morning I would have thought, “Oh How Lovely!” Then carry on with the presents and food. BUT APRIL 19th?

THIS TOTALLY SUCKS!

As a winter protest, I am creating a list of things that are suppose to happen in Spring here in Edmonton.

  1. Hmmmm okay this is harder than I thought it would be. We don’t get spring in Edmonton.

It will snow on and off until the end of May. I know, I know… this is complete and utter lunacy. I am so over winter I can’t tell you how badly I want to hear robins on my front lawn or smell fresh cut grass.

In protest I went and bought 3 short sleeved running shirts and several pairs of ankle socks for running.

Apparently I am only hurting myself because today is a crappy cold and windy day with the odd snowflake here and there. There is no way I can run outside in my new running togs and stay warm.

In 10 days it will be May. On May 26th I am running my first 10km race. I don’t want to wear this:

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But seeing as I am racing in Alberta, odds are excellent that I will be wearing exactly that.

I have decided I will use a technique called planned ignoring. This is where you don’t reinforce negative behaviour, you ignore it. In this case WINTER is being a jerk so I will no longer pay attention to this bad behavior. No more pictures, no more winter clothing, no more tolerance. Winter will finally become tired of being ignored and go away or at the very least, change it’s attitude. From now on my stubbornness will finally come in handy. I will force winter to leave by not giving it what it needs. That’s right winter, your days are numbered!

Anyone up for a picnic?

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Rain, Rain, Go Away!

There has been some serious rainfall here. While other parts of the world are experiencing extreme heat, I pulled on a hoody and warm socks to stay inside. There was a time I would have bare feet from April to October. Not this year. The snow was over my head in winter, and I get wetter walking outside than I do swimming in the summer. I can list a million reasons why this summer bites. However, that isn’t helping my quest to show more gratitude and be more thankful. So the up side is?

      1. Dragonflies are HUGE!
      2. Grass is very green!
      3. The berries are extra juicy!
      4. The air smells fresh!
      5. The clover is gorgeous!
      6. There is lots of water in the river, creeks, bogs, sloes and ponds!
      7. (This is getting REALLY HARD!) Falling asleep to the sound of rain on the roof is soothing!
      8. Saving money on not watering the lawn!
      9. You can play “Pooh Sticks” in the street!
      10. I didn’t have to set up my pool this year (or last year)
      11. You can always find a picnic table for Friday night family picnics
      12. There are NO crowds at Capital X (the fair grounds)
      13. Alex Tagliani got to rest today – The Indy was a rain out
      14. The rain barrel is full.

The rainbows and evening skies have been beautiful and there have been cold weather funnel warnings. As hard as I try to be grateful, would a little more sun hurt? Please?

 

So Where’s Your Snow Now?

Last week New York received a pile and a half of snow. It made international news. INTERNATIONAL NEWS! Yes there was a lot. Yes it was “coldish”. Yes it is WINTER.

This last weekend Alberta was hit with a TON OF SNOW. Did it make international news? I don’t think so. Was there a lot of snow? Yes. Was it cold? Yes it IS winter! It is always cold in winter. New York’s snow is nearly gone, it may be all gone, I don’t live there I don’t know for sure. The weather in New York was above freezing, and my scientific knowledge tells me snow melts when the temp is above 32F or 0C. Our snow wont leave until April – if we are lucky.

In New York, I learned on Facebook, that some people couldn’t make it into work, or didn’t even try because of the snow. Here in Edmonton, there is no such thing as a snow day. You have work? Better leave early. You have school? Better leave early. You need to go shopping? Be careful of the parking lot, you may get stuck.

My Offspring have been shoveling along with their Dad and every other citizen of Alberta the past few days. Chatterbox had to stop because she could no longer lift the snow OVER her head to store it on the lawn. I have good news for Chatterbox. The snow stopped and the sun came out! I have bad news for Genetic Offspring, there is more snow coming Thursday. Another 5″-10″ on top of the two feet we already have. Where are we going to put this stuff? The City hasn’t sent snowplows out to residential yet. Our neighbors all pitched in with shoveling the road so the cars wouldn’t get stuck. I think I need to buy a patio heater to melt the snow in my yard.

This is the view from my car window. I am backing out my driveway and looking to see if any cars are in the way. Can you see any?

This is the Snow Fort the Offspring made, the snowbank is nearly 6 feet high.

The view looking east at my neighbors garage – I can’t see it either.

The Sunset at 4:15 today looking out my window. This is why I live here. The amount of sunshine and blue sky is worth it to me.

Stay warm, have that shovel handy and keep your stick on the ice.  🙂

 

It’s so Cold My Nostrils Froze Shut

I ventured outside yesterday against my better judgment. I went to a gathering because my daughter had a commitment I wanted her to see through. We stepped into the attached garage, I took a deep breath, and my nostrils froze shut. Now for those of you who live here on the Prairies, or even have experienced  north of the 45th parallel cold you now what I mean. Frozen shut nostrils means it is COLD.

We hopped into my car after unplugging it. It took about 10 blocks before we could feel heat coming through the vents. We didn’t find it cold enough that our feet froze in an effort to keep the windows clear, so I was quite surprised to find out a tidbit of information at this gathering.

Yesterday Edmonton was the 3rd coldest place on the planet. Antarctica was the first, than Calgary. When the wind blew it felt like -39C. Yes that is cold, the kind of cold that makes your skin burn. I love it!

I know you think I am crazy, but I don’t mind the cold so much. I find it convenient. I put a box on my deck to freeze my baking ( the box keeps the birds away). I have hoped we would have the coldest winter on record. Why you ask? Because the Evil Genius lands in Vancouver today, he comes to Edmonton on Saturday. He lives in Australia the land of sun, heat and Dingos. He is leaving his summer behind to experience a winter in the Great White North.  He deserves a bitterly cold winter.

Its been a while, but here is The Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 Best things about a Bitterly Cold Winter!

  1. The Sound of Snow! I know this may seem odd, but as it gets colder, there is a dense sound Sound seems to be absorbed by the snow. When you walk on it there is a crisp squeak beneath your boots. I love this sound!
  2. A Prairie Blue Sky! As the temperature drops, the sky just seems to get bluer, if that is even possible.
  3. The Sun Always Shines! When a High Pressure settles in for a long time, the sky stays clear, there is no extra snow and the sun shines all day!
  4. It’s a dry snow. Here on the prairies snow doesn’t tend to be wet and heavy until spring. In the winter snow is light, fluffy and dry. It gets on your clothes and you don’t get wet. You can stay outside longer because keeping dry means staying warm. Shoveling is easier – not that I know what it’s like to shovel snow, I have a Honey and Offspring for that.
  5. Everything takes longer. I like that. It is longer to get to work, it is takes longer to move around when you are bundled up, it is a lazier time, much more relaxing.
  6. Ice Fog. Ice fog produces beautiful sunrises and sunsets, keeps the trees and shrubs beautiful with the absence of leaves.
  7. Wool Socks. I love to be bare foot, but when it is cold there is nothing I like more than colourful cozy thick wool socks.
  8. Quilts. I use to quilt daily. That dwindled to occasionally, then eventually to never. However, I am so very happy I was prolific in my creations. I have enough cozy quilts for everyone to have on their bed, and an extra one each to wrap themselves in while sitting by the fire.
  9. Northern Lights. It seems to me, the colder it gets the clearer the skies and the brighter the Norther Lights get.
  10. Yorkshire Pudding. Has nothing to do with it being cold, but tastes better when it is cold outside.
  11. Frozen Breath. As a kid it was fun making designs with it or just puffing it out. I still like to do it.

I love that I live in a place that has four very different seasons. Winter isn’t my favorite of the four, but I would miss it if I didn’t have it any more.