Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Not everything is snow covered. Here is our Camellia, on February 1st. Spring is not far away.

So you think its been cold? Don’t go there boys and girls – we don’t know how lucky we are with our weather even in Winter. I’ve made pals by e-mail with Craig Bowman who is coming to stay with his wife at the cottage for a week later in the year. They are from Canada.

Some of the temperatures he talks about are also experienced within a mile of our cottage. If you climb up 3,000 feet to the peak above us, Beinn a Bheithir, in mid-winter in a howling gale, you will not survive long with the wind chill temperatures easily below -20. But his experience of these temperatures at sea level is awesome.

Here is his latest e-mail.

I'm writing you from La Ronge SK today, about 5 hours' drive north of Saskatoon. It is currently -41 C with windchills below -50, and only 7 of the 20 or so people who were supposed to come to my talk came today. I blame the weather. My hotel here has some rooms that face the outdoors (not mine thank goodness) and two teenage girls were frozen (by that I mean the door wouldn't open) inside this morning. The hotel guy had to get a space heater on the door, then took a ladder to get inside from the window, and then pushed his way out from the inside. Many hijinks ensued.

-30 is truly bad but unfortunately common at this time of year. At the extreme, we get down to about -45 once or twice per winter, and the wind can feel like it's taking an extra -20 off. When it gets like that, you avoid going outside, but life goes on, so we have some coping strategies. First, you need to have an electric block heater in the car, and preferably a remote-control starter as well so you can take the edge off before venturing out.

At those temperatures, exposed skin can freeze in less than a minute, so the key is layering & coverage - you know those facemasks you see thieves wearing on TV? People here wear them while walking the dog. Underneath a hat and scarf. And the dog wears little

Your tears are a saline solution, so the eyeballs do not freeze up unless you're already dying of hypothermia, which happens a few times a year to drunk people walking home from the pub or stranded motorists going for help. The eyes aren't the big problem - it's fingers, toes & ears, which can freeze through and then develop gangrene. It all sounds worse than it is; the great majority of people prepare before the go out and are ready for it. Fortunately, the deep freeze in Canada really only lasts from late November to late March, and it the worst never lasts too long - tomorrow is getting up to -7!


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