When you enquire about the winter we’ve been experiencing this year, most Edmontonians will describe it as ‘mild’ and positively warm. Being new to the whole ‘snow in your back garden for 5 months’ scenario, and sub-zero temperatures for months on end, I’d hesitate to agree at this stage – but we are certainly acclimatising to it. For the last 10 days now, we’ve been on the positive side of zero – even double digits for the last few days which has been blisteringly warm. Well okay, maybe not blistering, but it’s been t-shirt weather for sure, and there’s also been the odd glimpses of people sporting shorts and sandals on the pavements (sorry, sidewalks). We must be used to lower temperatures as walking back from school this week, all the kids were in t-shirts as it was ‘too hot’ wearing coats in 8 degrees. 8 degrees! At home in England, I’d have had my thick coat on, scarf, gloves and hat just to keep warm!
And people have been coming out of their houses … spring must be here! It’s quite bizarre. When we first arrived, a few people observed to us that we wouldn’t see anyone as nobody comes out of their houses – but come the Spring, everyone will reappear and friendly neighbourhood banter will resume. They weren’t kidding. The only reason for going out when it’s so bitterly cold is to remove the mounds of snow from the drive so you can get in and out in the car – which you conveniently drive straight in and out of the garage, keeping your exposure to the cold to an absolute minimum. You never see anyone save the other poor soul who’s trying to clear their drive as quickly as possible before frostbite sets in. It’s certainly not a conducive environment for taking 5 minutes and passing the time of day. The most ventured is a hasty, ‘hello, it’s cold today, isn’t it’, and quickly do the job required, before retreating to the warmth of indoors. So, with the welcome warmth of the sun and unseasonably high temperatures, the snow is finally melting and people are appearing out of their hibernations and venturing outside. I’ve even met a few of the neighbours ….
And when I say the snow is melting, it’s still not quite disappeared. Amazing really. We’ve had positive temperatures for the last 10 days and there’s still snow in my back garden – but it’s starting to melt and the grass is finally appearing. It just goes to show how deep it is that it’s taking so long to dissipate. At this rate, it may have just melted before we get to next Winter!!
And these things get quite technical.
The foot attire has also changed. We’ve been wearing snow boots for the last 4 months, and with the big thaw, everything has now become wet, soggy and waterlogged. Snow boots are no good. Wellies are the order of the day and the local Walmart is doing a brisk trade in meeting retail demand. The volume of water that is sat on the land and draining into the water system is immense – the sound of the water going down the drains like waterfalls, makes you wonder how the local water utility copes with such volumes and run-off.
And people are out walking dogs! Yes, even the ‘dog attire’ has changed. I kid you not. Before we arrived in Canada I’d seen the occasional novelty dog coat and chuckled at dog boots in the shops, but hadn’t taken any of them seriously. If you’re a dog out here, those items are absolute essentials and only the most hardy of canines ventures outside without them. And that’s those that venture out at all. Given the volume of dogs spotted outdoors being taken for a walk in the last week, it just goes to show how many must have stayed indoors in the warmth for the last 4 months. It’s become the norm to see a dog in boots that now, they look decidedly under-dressed without them!
So. We’ve got the big thaw. I’ve even had my windows open – that’s after I’d worked out how to open them after 5 months owning the house! People are remarking that based on experience, we may still get another big snow dump, but for all intents and purposes, the worst is over for this winter. Part of me is quite sad to see it finally go – it’s extremely beautiful when everything is white, the frost glistens in the air and there are blue skies all around. Our first winter in Edmonton has clearly been an easy ride so I’m seeing it as ‘breaking us in’ gently. When there is a ‘typical’ Winter, at least we’ll now know what to expect.
So today. The sun’s out, there are blue skies, birds have appeared, temperatures are lovely and there’s a positive vibe around the place.
What’s not to like?