How cold was it in the Chilcotin this week? (Photo submitted)

Greenizan: the cold hard truth of living in Canada

The trials of winter really depend on what you are used to

I wore two jackets to barbecue dinner the other night.

I’m a year-round griller, so I’m used to being out on the deck in bad weather, but once the mercury drops into the negatives, I start thinking about just ordering pizza.

Nevertheless, there I was, shivering over a rack of chicken thighs, resisting the urge to just pull them off the grill early and go inside – chicken al dente is a thing, right?

And while I was standing there, warming my hands over the grill like a Depression-era cartoon hobo hovering over a fire barrel, I thought of something an old college friend said to me once during a particularly bad cold snap in Kamloops, where we went to school.

“Why do people live in places like this?” he asked, incredulously.

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My friend was an international student who grew up in Mexico City, so his befuddlement was justified. Not a lot of winter boots and remote car-starters in that part of the world.

Reminding him that, as a non-Canadian student, he paid even more for the experience than I did was not exactly the answer he was hoping for. He toughed out the next two school years, though, and as soon as he graduated he moved back home. He lives in Bogota, Colombia now, where the weather forecast this week calls for a low of 17 C.

He’s much happier.

Meanwhile, we here in the Lower Mainland have been experiencing some unseasonably cold temperatures – last week’s Environment Canada weather advisory warned of temperatures as low as -25 C with the wind chill factored in.

It’s not always like this, of course, as anyone who’s lived here awhile will tell you. But while the mild climate is one of the allures of living in this part of the world, it only makes the adjustment tougher when the temperature drops due to some arctic outflow that’s decided to roll through town.

We aren’t used to this, and if I could just speak for everyone for a moment, we don’t like it.

And while the obvious solution to avoiding frost bite is to simply stay indoors – wrapped in blankets next to a roaring fire, if possible – what I’ve found that works for me is to simply text my friends to see how things are going in their parts of the country, whether it’s the Cariboo region of B.C., or northern Alberta or somewhere much further east.

It’s really cold here, I tell them, adding a screenshot of the weather app on my phone that indicates it’s -2. The responses I get are not usually fit to be reprinted in a family newspaper.

Warms me right up.

Now, I myself briefly lived in some inhospitable territory. I spent nine months – all of them winter, somehow – in Peace River, Alta., so I still remember what real cold is. I leaned against an arena wall once, and my jacket stuck to it, and I still remember stepping outside in -50 weather, only to have my nose suddenly feel as if it were bleeding, so quickly did it freeze.

But that was a long time ago, and I’ve been happily back in the Lower Mainland ever since. Sure, it’s not Bogota, but it could be worse.

And if the infrequent cold weather – or the rain, which unfortunately isn’t as infrequent – really is too much to bear, we could all move somewhere warm.

Or at least find friends who have moved somewhere colder.

Nick Greenizan writes for the Peace Arch News. For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



editorial@peacearchnews.com

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