beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
[personal profile] beboots
 I like to think that I'm prepared for Canadian winters. I've lived here since I was three, born of a manly Canadian outdoorsman father who puts wild game on the dinner table. I never leave home without gloves in the winter, and I never foolishly wear stilettos or ridiculous shoes if it's cold and/or icy out, no matter how stylish I want to seem. Stylish goes out the window as soon as it hits below zero, right? (I know a friend who got frostbite and lost a toe because she wore stilettos to go to the bar in January and the busses abruptly stopped running. Just bring a big enough purse to hide your bulky boots in at your destination.) There's always an emergency blanket and shovel in the trunk of my car just in case I get stuck in a snowdrift somewhere. 

I am Canadian, hear me roar. 

Anyway, the weather's been so nice lately, right? It's actually been oscillating between about -10C and +5C every day for the past week. It's been surprisingly sunny as well, and there's been little wind to surprise you with the windchill. That sounds great!

...Until you remember that because of that big dump of snow we got in January, we have giant windrows (giant rows/drifts of snow created by snowplows, not a typo of "window") everywhere. That means that when the temperatures reach above zero, basic science tells us that some of that snow will melt. And refreeze at night. Then melt again. Repeat ad nauseam. The sidewalks go from being puddles or streams one day, and ice rinks the next.

And because of the windrows, the ice/water/whatever it decides to be on that particular day has nowhere to go. So it accumulates.

Now, after all that setup, I begin my story.

I spent much of my day doing homework, from about 9:30am until my sister came by to visit at 5:00pm or so. I was pretty productive! However, aside from opening the window every so often, I hadn't gotten any fresh air for the day. So after supper I decided to go for a walk. I would normally go for a jog, but that's just asking for trouble. I don't want to slip and break my writing arm or something, this close to the end of the scholarly season. 

Anyway, so I was navigating the ice and puddles just fine. I was on the home stretch. (I walk a sort of circle around my neighbourhood so I approach the house from the opposite direction that I started out on, which is how I got no warning.) I was walking down a hill, and I saw a lady and her small yippy dog, coming from the opposite direction. That's why, when I saw the giant LAKE of melted snow at the bottom, I presumed it to be passable. I mean, that lady and her tiny dog got across, so why can't I?

It was HUBRIS, plain and simple. I'm betting now that the lady just saw the giant pool of water and turned right back around... but didn't bother to warn me. :P Thanks, random lady. 

Anyway, I saw that the temporary lake was fairly deep, probably reaching halfway to my knees. But I saw a few footprints on the snowdrift on the side, so I figured it was pretty solid. I didn't want to go all the way back up the hill to pick a different path, so I continued on. 
BIG MISTAKE. The first ten steps or so were fine, fairly solid. I only sank about a handspan or two down into the snow. And then suddenly, I plunged downwards, up to my knees. My feet were soaked instantly: there was more water hidden beneath the snowdrifts. 
It was too late to turn around, though. Taking a desperate glance behind me, I decided to man up and keep going. Dry sidewalk was only about ten meters away. I plunged down through the snowdrift almost midway up my thighs a few times. I then veered slightly right, clinging to the chain link fence, but I couldn't get far just pulling myself along with my arms. I had long since reached the point of no return, though, so I had to keep going. 
In the end, I remembered something I'd learned in girl guides, about what you do if you should find yourself on thin ice: you spread your weight around. So what did I do? I got down and crawled. 
I literally crawled across this patch of snow and ice so I wouldn't get completely soaked. I was in no real danger (although I've since noticed some bleeding scratches on my shins from the snow when I was sinking deeply through half melted ice and got a bit of an abrasion when I came back up), and especially not from drowning or freezing or getting hypothermia so close to home, but... yeah. 
There was a guy walking his dog coming down the hill at me just as I got up. I warned him off. The sidewalk was impassable. He thanked me for telling him, and he went in the other direction. I can only hope that the prints in the snow from my flailing the last six or seven meters will warn other people off. 

I'm wearing pajama pants now, because damn it if the ice didn't melt off of my trousers and soak them as soon as I stepped inside the house. :P
Canadian winters still need to be taken seriously. Even if (and maybe especially if) it's above zero. 

Date: 2011-03-20 02:49 am (UTC)
kuiskata: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kuiskata
Canadian winters still need to be taken seriously. Even if (and maybe especially if) it's above zero.

This made me lol. This should be an icon or something.

Also, yay for productivity! (Trying to pound out a draft of my MLCS paper this evening... Nevermind the fact that I have 4-5 books I should still at least skim through...)

Date: 2011-03-20 03:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As I was changing my pants I was like "this is an epic story. It needs to be told." And it came out cooler than I thought it would.

And yes, it should totally be an icon. And it would be, immediately, if I had any skill at photoshop. >_>

I know. I spent about four or five hours on the MLCS paper today. Feeling a BIT better about it, now. Not much. Need to edit the crap of what I've blethered about to see if there's anything worth salvaging... I DID find a lot of interesting primary sources to cite instead of secondary ones, which is a bonus. Makes me look more scholarly. I think that I may write a blog post with some of the neater quotes in them...

Date: 2011-03-20 05:23 am (UTC)
kuiskata: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kuiskata
I spent a couple of hours reading for that paper, and have about a page of plans - basically, blocks of text enumerating what I'm planning on putting in each paragraph. I may start actually writing it tonight - I'll probably be up until 1am, after all...

Primary sources are cool! :D I don't have any...probably the closest I could get would be to actually look up the Welsh Language Acts... Not really going to bother.

ETA: ahaha, reading through some of the other comments on the post. Being Edmontonian = anything above -10 is warm. Anything above 0 might as well be tropical! XD
Edited Date: 2011-03-20 05:25 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-03-24 07:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lol trufax. Canadian "warm" is most of the rest of the world's "freezing". ;)

Yeah, I just happened to find some good primary sources - simply because there AREN'T a whole lot of works done on this particular subject - so I may as well use them. ;) I don't think that you're required to do so. No worries!

Date: 2011-03-24 11:03 pm (UTC)
kuiskata: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kuiskata
Unless you're in Vancouver. But then the rest of us Canadians can point and laugh because Vancouverites are wusses when it comes to winter. (Actually, so's anywhere that has this mythical "snow day" thing I hear about... XD)

I'm not worried - I've never actually needed to find primary documents for any of my papers before... :)

Date: 2011-03-20 03:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ohhhhhhhhh that's awful! I can't imagine how COLD that was.

And I mean that. No. Really.

It, uh, was about 82 degrees Fahrenheit here today. Which is pleasantly cool for this part of Florida.

Y'all are tough up north, is all I can say. ;D

Date: 2011-03-20 04:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I quite enjoy the cold! ;) It's when it starts to get like -25C below or colder that I'm miserable. At those temperatures, the inside of your nose freezes and, sometimes, your eyes may freeze shut. I always like showing people THIS photograph:
It's from a few years ago, but essentially, the bus was late, and it was "freezing" even by Canadian standards. The temperature my mum calls "minus brrr". My eyes were freezing shut. :P

Of course, I'm all tough when it comes to enduring the cold, but I wilt in the heat. Average room temperature = +22C up here. If it gets above, say, +26C, I wilt. I'm absolutely useless. :P

Date: 2011-03-20 04:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
THAT photograph is SCARY.

(You're not scary, mind, but the sheer coldness of it is!)

If it gets above, say, +26C, I wilt.

Well, don't come to Florida, then! Last summer we were hitting 105F pretty much every day. That's like, what? 40C? Yeah. HOT. And yet... average. :P

Date: 2011-03-24 07:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, that's well above body temperature, right? See, I know that like -43 is the same in Celsius and Fahrenheit, and that 103F-ish is body temperature, which is like +36/+37C... Those are my reference points. Anything in between? *shrugs*

Date: 2011-03-24 09:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
103F is a pretty bad fever, actually. Body temperature is more in the range of 96-98F.

I only know the 30-ish range of Celsius, because that's what most commonly displayed on the scrolling time/temp at the bank on the corner. LOL

Why does American measurement have to be so DIFFICULTDIFFERENT??

Date: 2011-03-24 10:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Metric is where it's at, man. ;) It's the same with this whole miles-per-hour/kilometers-per-hour thing. I'm glad a prime minister of ours decided to make the unpopular decision to switch us over in the 1970s while it was still possible to switch over. ;)

Date: 2011-03-24 11:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I just got done teaching a chapter on measurement - we did customary & metric. Quarter-inches totally mystified the kids, but they got centimeters with no problem. If that's not a pro-metric argument, I don't know what is. ;)

Date: 2011-03-25 12:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If you didn't grow up with imperial, metric is a much more intuitive system. To convert from centimeters to meters to kilometers, just add or substract zeroes! ;) The imperial system always reminds me of the old British monetary system, or, alternatively, the Harry Potter monetary system. How many knuts to a sickle to a galleon again...? ;)

Date: 2011-03-20 04:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Omg that all sounds SO COLD. Get yourself some hot chocolate if you haven't already. You deserve it.

I'm sure you don't mean for it to sound badass, but living out a Canadian winter seems badass to me. ;D

Date: 2011-03-20 04:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It was actually only just about zero, so it wasn't bad. I didn't even wear gloves for most of the walk... until I started crawling across snowdrifts, lol. ;)

Oh yeah: being a Canadian is badass. ;) If you ever come up here in the wintertime I will totally teach you how to snowshoe across snowdrifts - on an authentic pair of wood-and-sinew snowshoes! ;) It's super-fun.

Also: hot chocolate made purely from milk + a dollop of Bailey's Irish Creme = delicious antidote to the cold! ;P

Date: 2011-03-21 02:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yikes. That sounds awful. I'm glad you got home safely and warmed up quickly, though. If that had happened farther from your house, that could have been nasty... >_<

I only experienced snow like this back in 1995, during the worst winter Tierra del Fuego had seen in fifty years (meaning: a lot like your average Canadian winter, really. XD).

I had gone to Ushuaia (built on a mountainside... some sidewalks are literally stairs, with banister included) to visit my aunt during the winter, and I regularly had to get up at five in the morning to help my aunt shovel the three or four feet of snow that had fallen during the night off the sidewalk if we wanted to be able to leave the house later. If we didn't shovel the snow when it was fresh, it would freeze solid by midday and we would be screwed).

Some winters hadn't been as smart: we regularly saw cars that were almost completely buried in snow, and which would be unrecoverable until Spring.

I frequently had to face the fresh-and-awfully-slippery ice situation where I lived, though (we didn't get as much snow there but ice was plentiful). A trick to avoid nasty falls was to wrap our shoes with a bit of stocking so they would stick to the ice slightly instead of slip. Works like a charm. Have you tried it? :)

Date: 2011-03-21 02:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Some winters hadn't been as smart

Winters? O_o

I meant people. ^^U

Date: 2011-03-21 10:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

Date: 2011-03-21 10:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That sounds like an EPIC winter. It doesn't get nearly that bad in Edmonton, which is usually fairly dry, so we only get a moderate amount of snow, not ridiculous amounts. Now in Quebec, it's an entirely different story... it's very humid because of the St. Lawrence River, so they get heaps of snow. Like, bury small houses and vehicles amounts. :P

I've never tried that stocking thing! I may have to the next time I find myself without access to winter boots, like in the event of a surprise snowfall. I have a really nice pair of hiking/winter shoes that I use when it gets really ridiculous. :)

Date: 2011-03-29 03:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We can't deal with snow here in Seattle. We've got insane hills. And maybe 8 plows for the entire city.

My very first street-sledding experience ended painfully. Next time, a park, or not at all.


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