Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Living in a Cold Winter Climate, But Were Afraid to Ask

Regular readers may have noticed that while my weekday posts in recent weeks have been about my travels, my weekend posts have been about some facet of Winter.

This weekend, when I ran out of winter posts, I racked my brain to come up with a post for today. Here it is.

If you live in a winter city/province/state/country, the conversation always seems to turn to the weather. When people ask us how we are today, we usually reply “Cold” or “Freezing” or “Frozen”. I know that makes us sound like pretty poor conversationalists, but that is just the way it is in winter.

It was also the way it was when I was growing up. There are things you learn, either by listening to or observing your parents, by accident or on a dare. For instance:

#1 – Never stick your tongue on a metal gate post or railing. I admit, I did not listen and the moment my tongue touched the cold steel, I immediately regretted it. In trying to get free, I left a part of myself behind. This impressed the boys, but not the girls, so much. I did not try to duplicate the effect for this post.

#2 – Don’t eat yellow snow. Lets face it, kids think eating snow is cool and perhaps in the old days, snow was a bit cleaner, but not now, especially with all the dog walking going on in town. I thought about just talking about this, but opted to post example photos from our walk today. Ughhh. Keep in mind, what you see in winter is also there in summer. You just can’t see it. Laying on a park lawn on a sunny summer day may be a bad idea. Just saying.

Now, as adults, we have developed or collected sayings and advice of our own.

#1 – Weather is no more than the choice of appropriate clothing. (credit to my wife)

– Here is what we wore today….and we were cozy….until we got inside the stores and then we were stinking hot. So, this saying is, in fact correct.

#2 – If you are going to commit a crime, do not do it after a fresh snowfall. See below.

#3 If you park your car outside, someone may ask you “Did you plug your car in?” When my soon to be brother-in-law arrived from Texas during a cold spell in 1975, he asked if the cords were connected to battery chargers. Nope, they connect to block heaters, embedded in the engine blocks to help keep engines and coolant from freezing in cold climates.

The arrival of an Australian Aboriginal hockey team in our city this week is partly what prompted this post. To go from +40 C to – 20 C must be one heck of a shock. I have felt the Australian heat and prefer our winter cold to their summer heat. I have heard that the Australian Government actually considers Canada a dangerous destination for their citizens and does not recommend it as a travel destination. I hope this is not true, but perhaps that is why we have so many Aussies working on our ski hills. They treat it as a dare.

#4 – Numerous sayings abound to indicate how cold it is outside: a) “Cold enough to freeze the nuts of a steel bridge.” b) “Colder than witch’s —-” c) “Colder than a well digger’s —-”

All those sayings aside, the colder the weather, the more water vapour you will see in the air from house furnaces, office buildings, factories, refineries, car exhausts and your breath. At -25 C and below, car exhaust vapour can create limited visibility leading to hazardous driving conditions.

Today was not too cold, so no breath photos and the number of plumes coming from houses is now limited as new houses with high efficiency furnaces no longer have chimneys. All I can say is thank goodness for central heating. If your furnace fails in the winter, you will get a first hand experience in climate change.

Here is another plume from a sewer grate hidden in the snow. Sorry to say, the cold air does not freeze the stink out of sewer gas.

5. – People (we) all have sayings to justify why they live in such a cold climate. In our neck of the woods, it is “But, its a dry cold.” This may be true, but only if you do not come from further North. People from the Northwest Territories who visit Edmonton say Edmonton is way colder at -20 than back home at -40.

In reference to the rainy We(s)t Coast and there grey rainy winters, we often say, better white (snow) than wet (rain). People from Vancouver say they do not mind the grey rainy winter and shoot back “Edmonton has 9 months of winter and 3 months of good skiing.” Ha Ha.

6 – Some people think Canada is colder because we use the Celsius temperature scale. Not so. -18 C is the same as 0 F. The two scales actually meet at -40, which is cold, no matter which scale you use. Add wind to the mix and it feels even colder. They are predicting -31 C for a high next week and down to -40 with the windchill. Can you say “Hibernation”?

7 – “Isn’t it pretty? “Again, my wife’s saying. This can drive winter haters mad, but I am with her. It is clean and white and coupled with a blue sky and sunshine, it is in fact pretty.

Back yard shadows
Somebody needs to shovel off the neighbourhood hockey rink
Golden stubble pops through the snow cover. Edmonton gets ever closer to Beaumont.
Neighbourhood storm pond.

All kidding aside, we still love all our seasons, including winter.

Stay warm, my friends!

23 thoughts on “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Living in a Cold Winter Climate, But Were Afraid to Ask

    1. I love winters too, but at times, (like today at -28C with wind chill of -43C) I sometimes question why we live here. Just came in from shovelling and it was definitely brisk. Thanks for reading and commenting. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I definitely don’t miss the bitterly cold winters in Edmonton. But when we lived there – it was normal – we knew no different. But after living here for 40 years – we have gotten used to the overcast days. But this week we will again have our taste of below zero temperatures – highs of -17. Not as cold as you – granted – but cold enough.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yup. Each year, I tolerate the winter. Getting away for a warm week in the middle, makes little sense though. Leaving the cold is great, coming back not so much. But, its a dry cold. Thanks for reading Ann. Allan

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Chris. Great to have you for a reader. Thanks for the nomination and kind words, as well. If you don’t mind, I will sit this one out. I have had this nomination a couple of times before and want to leave the space for someone else. All the best. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha Ha. I thought I would bring a bit of decorum to the sayings. Most people likely already know the missing words. Thanks for reading and commenting John. We chatted with Ireland on Friday and they said it was going to +14. Here, today it was -28, with a wind chill of -43. Good thing I went for my walk yesterday. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t realize anyone would actually stick their tongue on a frozen piece of metal. That could not have been fun freeing your tongue. Yikes. Hopefully you only tried it once. I wish we had that much snow over here in Toronto. It’s been such a mild winter here.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is a strange thing. Your Mother tells you not to touch the stove, “It is hot”, so you check it out and she was right. Your Mother tells you not to lick the steel pole in winter, you wonder why, so you lick it and then you know why. Yup, once was enough. In my one room schoolhouse days, the young teacher would come out with warm water to pour over the tongues of first timers. That helped, if it was not too warm. I wish for you, some snow, rather than rain. It is anything but mild here today. -28 with a wind chill of -43. Now, where did I put that metal pole? Thanks for reading and commenting. Allan

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Pretty sure 90% of Canadian kids have stuck their tongue on metal!
    Personally it’s a dry sunny cold and I love it!! I lived in Vancouver and you couldn’t pay me to go back to the wet grey days. You have to dress for this weather — that makes all the difference. It’s always the wind that gets one.
    Great photos. One of the hardest parts of winter — taking photos!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you are right, at least from our era. Not sure if it is as prevalent in this day and age. Either fewer kids going outside in the cold or the absence of the school handrail/boot scarper combos. I am with you on the dry, sunny cold. A rainy winter can steal your soul, if you let it. The wind was howling yesterday here and I foolishly went out to shovel without my long Johns. I soon came back in to rectify that issue. Thanks for the compliments on the photos. Many is the time I have frozen my fingers to get a good winter shot. My wife gave me a pair of photographer’s gloves for Christmas. They make a difference, at least on the warmer winter days. Thanks for your thoughtful comments Bernie. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

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