Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cold, oh so very cold...

It’s ridiculously cold today. It’s a balmy -30 Celsius without a wind chill. The breath was wrenched out of my body when I stepped out of my front door this morning. I popped in a menthol cough drop on my way out this morning since I have a severe cold. On a normal day, it brings about a rush of fresh, cool air running through your lungs – on an arctic day your lungs seize and get a ‘brain freeze’ for about 30 seconds. Once my lungs thawed enough to gasp in some regular air, I ran to the bus shelter so that I didn’t end up a frozen lawn ornament. At this point in my morning I had two stunning revelations:

  1. When it gets this cold outside people still go to work, kids go to school, stores are open and cars still work – society doesn’t cease to function.
  2. Some people actually choose to live here – and I am one of them! What am I thinking?!??

When I first moved to Edmonton, it was summer time. It was nice, hot and the days were long and idyllic – that’s how people get sucked in! I don’t think anyone moves here in January. I recall walking through a parking lot my during my first week of living here and wondering why there were plug-ins all over the place. I merely shrugged and thought it was a Canadian oddity since I had never seen such a thing in America. Now I know it’s so that you can plug your car in because it gets so cold here that your car will turn into a block of ice if you don’t! I should have asked questions, and then turned tail and ran from the cold. This is my ninth winter here and I’m still shocked. I know, I’m a slow learner…

This morning as I walked towards my office building downtown, a well dressed man came up and asked me how well I knew Edmonton. I thought he was looking for an office building downtown or something like that. Apparently, he arrived this morning on the Grey Hound and needed to get to 149 Avenue and 97 Street. Unfortunately, his luggage got put on the wrong bus and he had to hike there without a toque (for all you Americans reading this, a toque is a stocking hat and it’s pronounced two-kuh) or scarf and only a medium weight coat. He was currently on 100 Avenue and 101 Street. It would take me about 2 hours on a summer day to make the trek; there was no way this man was going to survive. As I fished in my bag for some money to give him for a bus ride, my hand froze. I am not over stating this (as I am sometimes known to do), my hand actually had no feeling after being exposed to the elements for a mere 90 seconds! All I did was give this man $2.25, tell him to take the number 9 bus and ask the bus driver what bus to take after the number 9. Why didn’t I buy him coffee at the Starbucks we were standing in front of? Why didn’t I ask more questions and help him out more? Perhaps the cold froze my brain this morning – I wasn’t thinking straight. Now I can’t stop thinking about this man and his trek through the arctic without any of his belongings – I hope he makes it and that someone more coherent helped him out along the way.


Jim Hall said...

The other day I watched the news from an American station, where in Washington state, there was a big snow storm. The reporter went on and on about how there was 'snow and ice' on the roads, as if this was an overwhelming statement. Further, apparently schools shut down and people abandoned their vehicles, and didn't go to work. As a life-long resident of Edmonton, I was amazed at how these people got shut down by a snow storm!
Donloree, I totally understand how shocking the elements can be to you, given that you are from the States, because I am equally amazed and shocked at how the people of Washington were shut down by weather that I've experienced every year of my life :)
Sadly, (to me) I don't think Edmonton will ever be able to experience the other side of the spectrum: overwhelming heat! How I wish we could, just for a while!
Oh well, I guess I'll have to go somewhere hot!
Maybe you and Jon would like to come too :)

Nichole Gruber said...

As a transplant Washingtonian, I can assure you there is good reason the state shuts everything down when the white stuff falls. It is because people DO NOT know what to do... they freeze.. literally. Growing up in South Dakota, we went to school in blizzards when it was below 0. But here, in Washington, they cancel everything with a few inches of snow. We aren't supposed to see snow or ice here - therefore, it is quite shocking when it does come. Ha! Sorry you are freezing Donloree!

ken jerzyk said...

Hey Donloree- tell Brad he spelled his name wrong. Is he a Polock?

I grew up in Michigan's UP and then spent another decade in Minnesota. I sort of envy you. Does your hair turn to icicles in 15 seconds if you shower in the morning and step outside? How many different ways can you plug in your car?? (oil pan, engine block, radiator, etc.)

What did Joe Weber ever do to that thick Irish wool coat I gave him for Edmonton? You could wear that to the North Pole.

Ken Jerzyk