Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: blizzards

Tips for newcomers to Canada – No. 1

Listen carefully when Canadians talk about the weather and you will discover there is a protocol that we all follow. For instance, here where I live, we just had an early snowstorm. When we get together with neighbours, the first thing one does is to complain about the weather: “It’s not fit for man nor beast out there;” “Quel temps de chien!”

The proper response is to agree how bad it is and give an example, perhaps how they barely made it to town in the deep snow on the road. Everybody takes his or her turn, adding details of how awful the weather is.

Then, somebody will say “Do you remember the blizzard of ‘98? Now that was a storm!” Then we all start to talk about how we’ve experienced weather that was a lot worse than what we have today.

Do you see what’s happening? We love to complain about how hard we have it living in this harsh climate, but then we flip it around and boast about how tough we are and we can handle it. The same protocol is followed when talking about mosquitos or grasshoppers in summer, or any other event in our immediate environment.

If you are a newcomer to Canada, listen until you get a feel for the drift of conversation, chip in with a personal experience if you wish. Be careful, though! This is not the time to tell us about floods, earthquakes and hurricanes in your home country. It’s not that we don’t care, but the flow of conversation will just wash over such thoughts as if they hadn’t been uttered.

Let us enjoy our little pity party / boasting session. It’s part of who we are. If you can learn to just go with the flow, nod at the right moments and add a word or two when appropriate, we’ll begin to feel like you’re one of us. Eventually, someone will ask you what things were like where you came from. Then you will have our full attention.

The benefits of winter

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We are having weather today — just what kind isn’t exactly clear yet. Yesterday was mild,  light rain began in the afternoon and froze after dark. Last night we drove home from our first Christmas gathering on roads that were just a little icy. This morning there was light snow falling, which turned to rain and later back to snow. Further south it is mostly rain that its falling; a little to the north it is mostly snow. I expect that when we go to church tomorrow we will drive on roads having a buildup of snow, with ice underneath. Soon we will only have to contend with snow.

And that isn’t all bad. Living in a cooler climate means that we don’t experience nearly as many severe weather related natural disasters, like tornadoes, hurricanes and floods. Flooding does occur some springs, there are tornadoes, but they are usually small, localized events. The worst tornado in Canadian history occurred a century ago in Regina, Saskatchewan. No tornado since has caused as much damage or loss of life.

This is dry country. Winter, with its snow cover, prevents moisture loss due to evaporation. When the snow melts in spring, it waters the soil more uniformly than would a heavy rainfall, as the rainwater would tend to flow to the low lying areas. Cold winters keep some pests from venturing this far north. So far, there have been no reports of fire ants, killer bees or Burmese pythons in Saskatchewan, or anywhere else in Canada.

A whole range of athletic activities have developed to take advantage of winter conditions: downhill and cross country skiing, snowshoeing, tobogganing, skating, hockey, ringette, broom ball, curling, snowmobiling and dog sled racing. Children make snowmen, snow forts and snow angels. There are ice sculpture competitions.

Above all this, winter is a tremendous economic stimulant. Snowstorms provide work for snow removal contractors, tow truck operators and taxi drivers. Ski resorts and ice rinks hire many seasonal workers. And think of all the jobs created by the manufacture and retail of snow tires, snow shovels, snow brooms, windshield scrapers, parkas, winter boots, winter gloves, mitts and scarves, skates, pucks, hockey sticks, curling rocks, curling brooms, broom ball brooms, ringette sticks and rings, skis, ski boots, ski poles, snowshoes, snowmobiles, Zambonis, snowplows, ski slope grooming equipment, insulation, weatherstripping, heating systems, construction site heaters, and so on. There are also the lamps made for therapeutic use, to prevent seasonal depression caused by reduced exposure to sunlight during the short days of winter.

Winter is the ideal time to stay indoors, play ping pong, crokinole or Scrabble, sip hot chocolate of hot apple cider, and swap stories about the blizzard of ’47 and other memorable winter events.

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