Winter in my part of this country makes for some horrendously cold temperatures and heaps of wind blown snow, stacking up like cord-wood against the house. Last winter, we had a mild and sunny winter, enough so that my annual hydrangeas, that would only be perennials in milder climes, actually survived and bloomed fantastically this spring!
Today, the temperature has sunk to an icy -26 C...with a wind-chill guaranteed to replicate -34C and colder. I came home from my office last evening, and as I was driving into my garage I decided that today and tomorrow, my weekend days off, are going to be spent inside my home, with the fireplace stoked to the gills and the hot chocolate and Bailey's ever-present. That way, I'm hoping to be cozily warm all weekend, and failing that, with enough Bailey's in my hot chocolate, I'll be too smashed to care!
There's a theory that living in this harsh, winter climate breeds hardy stock in our Canadian-born gene pool. I'm not sure that's altogether true, but I am sure that it creates a different kind of thought process for those of us who live with, and through, another winter season. This inhospitable weather forces us to adapt ourselves in more than one way.
First, we absolutely must learn about survival and what it takes to get from point A to point B and back again...without freezing our proverbial knockers off! If this lesson goes unlearned, there's not much more to say, except, "'Bye-bye!"
So, dressing for warmth...fleece works, wool works, polyester does not. I have a couple of pairs of winter boots that keep my toes roasty-toasty, no matter how low the outside temperature falls. A pair of Sorrels, the everyman's winter boots, in fluorescent pink and white with felt liners...these little babies keep my feet warm, no matter what! They are almost knee-high and weigh a few pounds each, so walking any distance can be an aerobic adventure, to say the least. But, on a bitterly-cold winter day, walking outside at all is a miracle, so I gleefully slide my feet into my Sorrels, go out to chop wood and cut kindling for my wood-burning fireplace. I spend about 30 minutes outside, axe-hacking the white birch logs to manageable quarters, and when I finally return to the warmth inside my home, my feet are not cold at all.
Then, there's my eggplant-hued Linda Lundstrom knee-high boots to match my eggplant-hued ankle-length wool-lined hooded parka. These little suckers are the lightest weight boot I've ever owned, and you know what? They keep my little toes warm! I have no clue what Ms. Linda does to make them so wonderful in cold weather, but they surely are.
Being hardy Canucks, we understand that doing anything outside in this weather is totally and completely insane. There are many people whose daily existence depends upon working outside in this weather...the guy who pumps gas into my car at the Petro-Canada, my son-in-law who works in the field for the oil and gas company that employs him, my neighbour who runs an x-ray unit for checking pipelines for flaws...these brave people must bundle up and leave the warmth of their beds about 5:00 A.M. every morning. Because of them and the job they do, I get to hunker down in my warm home and I appreciate every single second of their working hours!
Finally, as Canadians, we know without a doubt that the frigid days and nights will pass, the temperature will warm up and before we know it, we'll be fertilizing our lawns, picking up the detritus of winter and sharing a cup of tea over the back fence with our neighbours. My lawn will look like a slice of Ireland herself, my hydrangeas will miraculously have survived another winter and my willow-woven plants stands in my front yard will be encased in fragrant Sugar Daddy petunias, trailing canary vines and lapis coloured lobelia.
This provides a reminder for me...
Stay where it is warm, no matter what.
Work inside, out of the cold, wherever you can.
Nothing lasts forever.
I stay warm, by surrounding myself with warm-hearted people.
People who make me welcome in their lives.
People whose eyes light up when they see me and whose voices ring with a welcoming note when we meet.
I work inside, out of the cold by making my physical location as appealing and soul-satisfying as possible, rather than exposing myself to a work environment that is harsh and unpleasant.
A colour palette that soothes me when I step inside the door.
Furniture that supports my body and wraps me up in giant hugs when I sit down in it.
Food and drink that is as delicious to my mouth and as nutritious for my body as possible.
Nothing lasts forever.
Nothing lasts forever...the three most important words in the Universe. When I got it that nothing lasts forever, I immediately learned that my painful days will soon give way to joyous happy days, just as my joyous, happy days will give way to pain, eventually.
So, full circle...
Why the title?
Snow! The BASTARDS!
A little story...
One of the men who used to teach at our school lived in a basement apartment, with windows that opened onto his front lawn. Having arrived recently from England, John had never experienced a Canadian winter before, and he was in for a rude surprise! Not only was the weather so incredibly inhospitable to him, his fellow teachers had a game they played when carousing in a Saturday night.
After several hours of serious partying, they'd wait until the wee hours of the morning, and then go to a fellow teacher's home and wake the unsuspecting person up, in a very rude and uncivilized manner.
One morning, very early, the party people crept semi-silently over the snow-covered lawns to John's basement window...looking in through the sliver of opening between the window and the frame, they saw him sound asleep. Scooping up several ice-cream buckets of freshly fallen snow, they surrounded his window, eased the window open wide and then tossed the snow onto John and his warm, cozy bed!
Instantly, John was awake. He looked around, then ran his hands over his snow-covered blankets, looked groggily up at the now-open window and his colleagues weaving loutishly on the front lawn outside, and bellowed, "SNOW! The BASTARDS!"
With that, he leapt out of his bed, pulled on his jeans and sweater, then let himself out of his apartment and joined his buddies for a few more hours of carousing!
John learned some life lessons that winter.
Stay where it is warm, no matter what...unless you smell a party going on without you!
Work inside, out of the cold, wherever you can...until your bed is so damned snow-cold you gotta move!
Nothing lasts forever...not even the winter snow on your sheets. Sooner or later, you just gotta go have a beer with the boys, while your bed dries out!