Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cold and Warmth

It's -36. And truth be told, there is something unifying in weather this cold. On leaving a cozy bed in a nice, warm house this morning, to drive in a moderately warm vehicle, it is immediately apparent that the world slows in weather like this. The boys are quieter in the car on the way to school, chins tucked into scarves and collars, eyes downward and arms folded. The roads are  like winding ice rinks and when I comment on this to my youngest, he tells me to avoid body checking anyone.

The city is covered in clouds. Not cumulus or nimbus, but clouds from simple things like water running under the city that is fighting the force of the cold that would render it immobile, frozen and still. The clouds of its exertion puff out of sewer grates and seemingly random piles of snow. Breath, coffee steam, dryer vents and car exhaust all conspire to fill the city with fog as if to insulate us.

I hate being cold but there is something I love about this type of cold. It's what makes us soak up the heat of summer with such abandon. It makes us scoff at Californian complaints of coolish weather that becomes lead story material on the southern news channels.  It forges a comraderie amongst our city dwellers that this morning, led a man named Ashad, to fill up my tank with gas while he filled his own vehicle, simply to save two of us from standing in the cold watching the litres tick by. It forces me to be mindful that not everyone has a warm home to retreat to and when I head up to our office and encounter a homeless man sleeping on the couch in our hallway, I tiptoe by as not to wake him, knowing sleeping in a warm hallway is such luxury. It rings in the story of  my friend, a firefighter who resucitated a homeless man yesterday in the street where he lay and got him into an ambulance and out of the cold.

Many would say that this type of weather is what makes us a hearty people. It forges character. I hope that is true. It forces us to be kinder, gentler…with ourselves and others. It makes us more congenial when we commiserate even as we get more and more tired of the length and depth of this winter. Then the sun comes out, over the city, without warmth but with light and colour and the basic sustenance we need to get through another day with hope. Then I am passed on the rink/roadway by a snow covered convertible and I am reminded that we live with hope - that one day the sun will come and bring with it warmth to accompany the light and the colour. And that snow covered convertible will have the roof down and we'll forget that days like this really exist. I do hope we hang on to the character and kindness though.
The South Saskatchewan River letting off steam in -36 weather

The beautiful Bessborough, as if this composed lady on the riverbank would ever blow her stack

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