Cold nuff for ya?
It’s a familiar retort and I’m still waiting for someone to answer “no”. We’ll have to have a serious talk.
As the city is once again in the grip of winter, it’s all too easy for those of my generation to recall Randy Bachman’s acerbic line from his old hit “Prairie Town” when he refers to Portage and Main at 50 below.
Winnipeggers do like to exaggerate. It’s never been 50 below in Winnipeg. And in the 40 plus winters I’ve spent here there’s only been a handful where it’s hit 40 below.
Unfortunately however, there’s been far too many at 30 below. And let’s face it, anything below minus 20 is damn cold.
As I shiver driving to work in the morning it’s hard to remember that last November was one of the mildest on record.
I was still riding my motorcycle although that seems just a distant memory now.
Global warming can be welcome here at certain times of the year, although the preferred term now is climate change.
Take heart though, it’s a dry cold. That may seem like an overworked cliché but let me tell you as someone who grew up in the North of England there’s nothing worse than a damp cold; it’ll chill you right to your bones.
It would usually snow there each winter yet only stay on the ground for a few days before thawing. If there was snow on the ground for more than a week you can bet some old coot would be complaining of the coldest winter since nineteen forty whatever.
Yet when it snowed it really snowed hard, snowflakes could be almost two inches wide and it would snow all day but all melt as it hit the ground. Very rarely would it “stick”.
When I first moved to Winnipeg it was mid-summer and 30C yet people warned me about winter. But when you’re on the sand at Grand Beach with a cold drink in your hand who cares.
So it was a bit of a surprise when a few months later I was at work on an early November afternoon and people were panicking looking out of the window as it started to snow.
They say the Inuit have more than fifty words for snow. Well those tiny flakes coming down didn’t look like much snow to me. So it was a bit of a surprise when I woke up the next morning and it was two feet deep.
Working at the university I see lots of African students. They arrive early September when the weather is nice. Come mid October when there’s a 5C morning I see them wearing not just their new parkas but every item of clothes they own underneath it.
It’s all relative of course and when you come from a tropical climate 5C would be very chilly. I don’t have the heart to tell them it’ll get colder.
But I’ve finally found a sure fire way to beat the winter blues. A plane ticket to Mexico for that tropical climate. I leave next week. Enjoy yourselves.