Wednesday, January 23, 2013

There can be no doubt whatsoever that we’re smack dab in the heart of winter. Extreme cold has blanketed much of not just where I am, but a good portion of the United States west and mid-west this past week, too. It promises to continue for at least another week.

When I consult a weather service online and see that the current temperature, with the “wind chill” factored in is sitting at minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit, I swear, even my shivers shiver.

I grew up learning weights and measures through the Imperial system, with inches and feet, ounces and pounds, pints and quarts and temperatures in Fahrenheit. While I was still in school our Prime Minister, Pierre Eliot Trudeau, decreed that we would switch to the “metric” system. This “metric conversion” was quite the controversy in its day, prompting all sorts of general grumbles of protest and snarky one liners. My personal favorite: can anyone tell me the metric equivalent for ‘crock’?

I’m afraid I don’t much care for the use of metric. When I see the temperature listed in degrees Centigrade I still have to do the math in my head to convert to Fahrenheit to know how cold or hot it really is. Now that I have a fair bit of white hair showing, I figure I can get away with ordering a pound of bologna at the meat counter, instead of a half a kilogram, without feeling guilty.

It’s a testament to Canadian stubbornness that 43 years after metrification became the law of the land here, no one at any meat counter blinks at giving you pounds or ounces instead of grams or kilograms—not even the young staff members who have in their lifetime never used anything but metric measurements.

I understand the imperial measures better. They’re automatic to me. I know exactly how cold it is outside when I see “feels like” minus fifteen. I don’t have to convert, I just have to shiver and stay indoors.

We are, at this moment, just ten days away from Groundhog Day. Yes, that wonderful non-holiday holiday we’ve celebrated for years as the day when there is light at the end of our (imperial or metric) winter tunnels. I have to be honest and tell you, I’m not feeling as sick of winter as I used to at this point in the year, simply because while we still get these arctic blasts, winter simply isn’t as toll-taking as it used to be.

Then, too, it’s really easy to ignore the weather if you don’t go out into it very much. As you know, I no longer have that daily trek of a hundred miles all told to take Mr. Ashbury to work and pick him up again. At present, I’m only making the drive to bring him home on Tuesday afternoons.

It’s very easy to pretend the winter doesn’t exist when you stay inside most of the time.

We’re not taking any mid-winter vacations this year to escape the wintery state, either. Last year we were blessed to be able to fly to the Bahamas in February. This year, wonder of wonders, Mr. Ashbury has decided we should, perhaps, show a little restraint when it comes to “getting away from it all”. He actually admitted to me that maybe, just maybe, we had a few too many trips last year.

He had one more than I did, but I’m still reeling from the surprise that he would say such a thing. I didn’t ask him if he was feeling all right. I’m smarter than that. I just nodded my head and told him that he was right.

Of course the day is coming when we will have to consider the possibility of an annual migration away from Canadian winters. When Mr. Ashbury retires, and when our two youngest grandchildren are old enough they no longer need us to care for them while their mother is at work, we’ll likely become what our American neighbors call snowbirds.

It only remains for us to decide, whether we’ll choose one place to go to each year, or if we’ll try different locales with each winter solstice.


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