Monday, 19 January 2009

Incredible weather!!

I made a snowball today. A firm, very compressed, cold and icy snowball. And I threw it at my husband. Because THAT is what you do when the temperature gets above freezing in January in the great white north. When the snow sticks together it is reason to celebrate. I almost made a snowman.

For those of you south of about 45 degrees latitude who get bored looking at Palm trees, this may seem odd, but let me explain.

It has been cold here. Miserably cold. Try to imagine minus 40 F if you can. It freezes your nostril hairs in seconds. It gives a whole new meaning to cool crisp air. It is dangerously cold and it can get, well, rather depressing after the third, fourth, fifth week of it.

When it is THAT cold you spend fifteen minutes layering and bundling just to go out and hope your car, which has been plugged into a warmer all night, starts. You scrap off the ice and while the poor thing tries to thaw and circulate oil, you shovel the driveway of all the snow, piling it into big mounds at the side of the driveway, because where else are you going to put it?.

By now your care should be toasty warm because you just burned about $15 in gas to get it that way!

And you do this every day!! So you can have nice big piles of snow like this.

and this...

Which for a grand total of three months of the year would otherwise look like this...

Most smart Canadians who can afford it, have what we call "command start". You stand at your bedroom window in the buff and yell "Car! START!"
...actually you have to press a button on your ignition key. Voila, the car starts and you head into the shower - much more civil. You may still have to shovel the driveway though. Check the snow gauge.

When it is minus forty however the car may just refuse to start in which case you go back to the old way and may even need your neighbor to come over and attach big long electrical chords from his nice warm car battery that came out of a heated garage to your car battery which is refusing to speak to you because you left it on the driveway all night.

Another wonderful invention which I have in my northern survival kit is the heated seat. You sit down on your car seat and your bum starts to warm up. It is like a built in electric heating pad. Your hands may be frozen, your windshield iced up, your toes icicles, your fan blowing ice particles at you, but your bum is warm. Stop for a hot coffee on the way and things start to look up.

It has been like this more or less since before Christmas and the furnace has been doing overtime and charging accordingly since then.

But this weekend, things changed.

When the temps rise to a balmy 30 F or 1-2 Celsius up north here, you head out there in your bathing suit and shovel a spot on the front lawn for your lawn chair. Okay, not really, but you at least go for an invigorating walk.

And that's what we did early Saturday morning.

This, for those of you who have never experienced a Central Canadian winter, is a snow gauge....
It basically tells you from the kitchen window how long it will take you to shovel the driveway and how late for work you are going to be.

Very cool devise that doubles for a bird bath in the summer.

We do get summer. It is way too short but we do get summer and I for one am ready for it now.


Helen Tilbury said...

That is totally amazing & something I have absolutely no experience of. I'm not sure if I could adjust to it after living in Africa for 40 years. You mujst have great biceps from all the snow shovelling so I suppose it's a bonus to get your workout done without having to shower afterwards from the heat!

Julie Cortens said...

Ha ha indeed Helen I do have strong arms and back and shoveling snow for an hour is a invigorating cardio work out before the other work begins - sitting at a desk.
You will have to visit Canada in January and experience this cold that really does take your breath away. :) LOL
We do find ways to keep warm though. One downfall? Camera batteries are good for about 5 min in this kind of cold.

Allie said...

Heehee ... or you could live in southwestern Canada and hardly ever have to deal with all that white stuff! ;) I won't tell you what the temperature was here yesterday.

I love your "snow gauge" - haha!

Julie Cortens said...

ah, don't tempt me Allie!!!I often hear Dad muttering under his chilly breath as we shovel at 6:30 am that "this is it - the last winter here - we're heading to the coast"..or he mutters something similar.
Talk all your siblings into it, find Dad a job and we will be on our way.

Kate said...

Bwahahahahahaha!!! Excellent winter commentary Julie! You captured it perfectly. EXCEPT...and no offence to you personally...this is merely a Saskatoon winter baby. I did laugh when you said "Great white North". You have not experienced the North unless you've been to La Loche and seen (and felt!) -50. With NO WINDCHILL. Now that will make nostrils freeze SHUT. LOL And there is no starting the car in the buff at the bedroom window. The command start would actually laugh at you. Just give up and stay home.

Julie Cortens said...

Oh Kate, if anyone knows winter and cold it is you - and you lived in it with little ones. I have to concede I have never experienced the cold north of PA and honestly? i don't want to. I bet your happy to be back in the south again! haha

Tina said...

Those pictures look so very familiar! We have about the same amount of snow out here this year.