I know what you’re thinking, and it’s best to put this ‘heatwave’ into some context. The definition of a heatwave seems to be if the temperature is more than 5 degrees higher than the average for this time of year. Given that the average for January in Edmonton is -6 and we’ve been basking in the delights of a heady 6 – 11 degrees (that’s on the positive side!), we’re by definition, having a heatwave. I also never thought we’d find ourselves warmer than back home, but there we are. I’m leaving the house with a ‘light’ jacket rather than the usual duvet. I’m not sure I’d class it as my idea of a heatwave, but it’s certainly very pleasant.
Mind you, this has generated some downside in the orthopaedic departments across Edmonton and wider afield over the last few days. They’ve experienced a spike in the number of emergency admissions to the point that doctors and staff have been drafted in from home and those on leave. Why? Well, we’ve still got snow – lots of it – but this has been compacted and compacted over the past few months and the top layers are melting in the warmer air. Great, you may think? Alas no. The melting ice on the top layers turns to water which then freezes as the temperatures drop to zero overnight. The effect? All pavements and walkways are like ice skating rinks and absolutely lethal. Already in one plastercast with a broken wrist (it’s a long story, and to catch up just click this link), I’ve been rather dubious about taking my chances on the ‘sidewalks’!
It has had some hilarious moments. My middle kid goes out to check the community postbox every day which is at the end of the Close and she does this with mounting excitement at finding whatever may have been sent us in the mail and bringing it back. She made it to the end of the drive and couldn’t get to the front door. Every time she tried to take a step forward, she slid right back to the bottom. Those of us watching from the safety of our front room, were in stitches laughing at her fruitless attempts.
Then it was my husband’s turn. He leaves early to catch the bus into Downtown Edmonton and had been rather dismissive at my advice to watch the pavements as it would be slippery underfoot. He struggled and slid to the end of the road where we have a ‘ginnel’ (if you’re not from the North of England you may need to look this term up!), to the main road where the bus stop is. He described his attempts to ascend the moderate incline as starting to generate mild panic as the chances of getting to the top and catch his bus were minimal without significant intervention. Opting for submerging his boots and work trousers in the 2ft of snow at the side of the path just to provide some traction on the ice, this was his only way of making it to the top. Once there, and with the pavement the equivalent of a skating rink, he placed one arm behind his back, adopted the stance of a speed skater and ‘skated’ his way to the bus stop in his walking boots.
The mild temperature encourages the desire to go outdoors and take advantage of the warmer weather, and yet, being treacherous underfoot, it’s a risky venture. Some have taken to putting lead-tipped shoe spikes or strap-on grip enhancers on their feet, but the advice from the Canadian Safety Council suggests ‘walking like a penguin’. Arms out, feet turned slightly outward and small cautious steps. They forgot to add, and the ‘flapping of arms and short yelps’ which seems to come unconsciously when I’m out on the ice!!
As luck would have it, there’s an ice festival which starts this weekend in Edmonton where ice carvers across the world come and create amazing ice sculptures. It’s still going ahead despite the melting temperatures and we’ll go and take a look later today – life goes on and nothing stops here despite whatever the weather throws at us.
We’ll continue to make the most of the temperate weather, but I’m not looking forward to when the temperatures return to normality and plummet below zero. We’ll have to suffer the challenge of all the water freezing during the day unless some serious snow showers intervene and provide a blanket covering.
I’ll let you know. Now, where’s that bikini …….