A pedestrian walks across the street in downtown Scranton, Pa., on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. A major winter storm brought some of the coldest temperatures of the season and covered a large swath of the country in snow as it wreaked havoc on air travel and caused slick road conditions throughout New England Sunday. (Butch Comegys/The Times-Tribune via AP)

Robert Barron column: It’s cold; but it’s a lot colder back east

Vancouver Islanders have a peculiar view of winter, and I wouldn’t have it any other way

The polar vortex that drove emperatures in much of North America down to what is considered warm on Mars has, as usual, left Vancouver Island pretty much unscathed — until just recently.

The recent dump of snow, nothwithstanding, I’ve always found it refreshing to spend some time working in my garden during the winter months at my Island home, preparing it for the spring planting, while Canadians from the rest of Canada typically deal with their deep-freeze issues in temperatures that will cause frost bite on exposed skin within minutes.

It’s something I’ve had to contend with for most of my life while living in other parts of the country.

I remember living in Toronto many years ago at this time of year.

I would get a shower in the morning preparing to go to work and, during the 10 seconds it took me to walk from the front door to my car, my wet hair would almost instantly freeze solid on my head.

It was so cold that it would hurt just to breath and you would have to take short intakes of air to avoid taking in too much frozen air directly into the lungs.

Daily living during those winters turned into a struggle for survival as you took on the death-defying challenge of driving on slippery and snow-bound roadways, and risking heart attacks as you shoveled out the wet and heavy snow from your homes and businesses.

While living in northern Newfoundland, the snow-belt of that province, I would regularly have to start my day by finding my car somewhere buried in the snow bank that had formed overnight on it, and then dig the car completely out before making my way to work.

But most people living in the colder parts of the country deal with this reality for long periods every year, and most survive it with good grace and a deprecating sense of humour.

That’s why I’m so surprised and amused by the reactions of many Vancouver Islanders when the temperatures here dip below zero, as it has over this past week.

Although the coldest I’ve seen it here so far this year has been -6 C, compared to -36 (and colder with the wind chill) in many other parts of Canada, I’ve watched many Islanders react as if a new ice age has descended on us.

If Toronto was just -6 C right now, people would be sitting on outdoor decks wearing shorts, but many Islanders I’ve seen over the past week have on full ski-doo suits with their heads so wrapped in tuques and scarves that all you can see are people’s eyes.

The truth is that I’ve been living on the Island for so long now that I wonder if I would accept living in other parts of Canada at this time of year with the good grace that I had in the past.

I’m just glad to live here.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Mitchell’s Musings: Time flies faster in new millenium

Like Steve Miller before him, columnist feels time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping

Vancouver Island Chronicles: meet the man who brought sawmilling to Alberni

Capt. Edward Stamp was a walking contradiction who built sawmills in outrageous places

World’s largest hockey stick getting new lights

New lighting system can change colours and patterns

Efforts begin to convert Kingzett Lake into a park

Victoria radio announcer begins initiative with petition

Vancouver Islander the world’s best shoe pitcher

Duncan’s Lindsay Hodgins wins horseshoe world championship

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Kraft Heinz brand baby food recalled in B.C. due to possibility of insects

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the product should not be consumed

Most Read