Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Real Northerner

Over the last twenty years, I have become a real northerner.

When I first moved north from Vancouver, I watched the weather channel every day with growing trepidation as October morning temperatures slid into the minus range. When it hit minus 4, I really bundled up for the eight-minute walk to work - leggings under jeans, down-filled jacket, scarf, and mittens. I sprinted to work so as not to freeze to death on the way (that's how it felt).

My colleagues were practically rolling on the floor laughing at me and wondered just what I would do when it was minus 40. Truth be told, I almost couldn't comprehend weather that cold. What would I do?

I took a lot of taxis during my first winter in the north and invested in an extra long, extra downy coat, heavier mittens, woollen scarves, and, something I hadn't worn in winter since childhood - a hat.  On the day after Boxing Day, it was minus 44 without windchill! Spring seemed so very far away.

A few days ago, the temperature was minus 33 in the morning (and probably rose to a "balmy" minus 29 later in the day). I still have not completely gotten over the bit of fear that accompanies such low temperatures - what if I become stranded and freeze?

But, it's workable, with cars plugged in overnight and warm clothes. Sometimes, it's this cold, and colder, periodically from November through March. We carry on.

I knew that my transformation to true northerner was complete when the early morning temperature on Thursday was ONLY minus 23. I felt real relief and happiness that it had warmed up!

Today it was minus 7 (with the heavy snow that always accompanies the rising temperature) - no leggings, no heavy coat, no scarf, and no hat. Just relief that it was warm.

How things have changed.

top photo credit -


Hels said...

What took you north?

I suppose you can get used to anything, pretty much. All my Canadian cousins live in Winnipeg (which they call Winterpeg) and love the city. Their car is under the house, their work parking spot is under the office building... they adapt.

Melbourne had a terrible drought for 5.5 years that only broke in 2011. Noone watered their lawns, cars were left unwashed for 5.5 years, people shared their bath with a friend. We adapt.

Owen Gray said...

As I've listened to the temperatures from Western Canada, I have thought about the time we spent in the Peace River Country.

When we arrived there, I was told that the school buses didn't run once the temperature reached -50C. I said, "Does it get that cold?"

I was told, "Oh, yes. But don't worry. It's a dry cold." They were right; it was a dry cold -- but it was still cold.

ChrisJ said...


I came here 19 years ago for a year! I replaced a then future colleague who went on sabbatical.

A drought as you had is worse - at least the cold ends when the seasons change.

ChrisJ said...


I still can't fathom minus 50, but with windchill it was that in Dease lake last week.

At a certain point, dry or not ceases to matter much.

Judie said...

Chris, That's kind of the way I feel about summer in the town in which I live. I will now be referring to it as Noscut, or maybe even Oosontay, for obvious reasons. When it is 105 degrees in the summer, we have been known to say, "quit griping! It's only 105!"

ChrisJ said...


I'm not sure which is worse - the hot or the cold.

Judie said...

Chris, when I am hot in the summertime, I can always jump in the pool, but when I am cold, chilled to the bone, it is very hard for me to get warmed up. I'd hate to think that it's age-related, but sadly, it probably is!

ChrisJ said...


I'm chuckling about age and getting warmed up! My problem is the opposite - age and wanting to cool off!!!

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious. And so Canadian.

Pearl said...

congrats on arriving.

amazing what the body will adapt to.

ChrisJ said...


Thanks for commenting. Yes, I guess so Canadian.!!

ChrisJ said...


Yes, amazing. And I am the most amazed.