Have you ever known a group of people more obsessed with weather than Canadians? Perhaps it’s because we have such a range of weather extremes and so much of it is shitty. From melt-your-smartphone humid summers to freezing sub-zero winters, we get it all. Maybe it’s a throwback to our agricultural heritage when our farmer ancestors constantly agonized about whether it was too dry, too wet or too cold. We all know farmers are never happy and they passed along the worry gene to future generations.
The weather report and discussions about the weather are guaranteed conversational ice-breakers and common denominator for all Canadians. “Did you get stuck in that snow storm last Tuesday?” Even when there’s no particular weather to discuss, we discuss it, “Mild isn’t it?”. We are addicted to the weather report and never get dressed in the morning without consulting the radio so we’ll know whether to dig out the long underwear or break out the flip flops. The evening weather reports on television are as vital to our daily functioning as the latest NHL scores and four-wheel-drive vehicles. This genetic imprinting has resulted in certain coping mechanisms unique to Canadians.
Top ten strategies Canadians have developed for coping with our weather:
- Tim Horton’s, founded by a former NHL hockey player from the sixties, is our cultural touchstone and year-round mecca for escaping life.
- We invented hockey which is played on ice twelve months a year and in the driveway or on the road in July and August.
- Insurance companies’ default no-fault policy guarantees no-pay if your vehicle slips on black ice and rear-ends a public bus. Get over it.
- Ontario Liberals can claim the usurious price of Hydro electricity is the result of previous winter weather caused by the previous Conservative government.
- Icicles are permanent appendages on the noses of Canadian children. Never break one off.
- Permanent salt stains up our pant legs make Canadians instantly recognizable in airports around the world. That means we’re not carrying a gun so there’s no need to worry about us hijacking a plane—ever!
- Washing your car between October and May is just a waste of money.
- We spend $500.00 on winter boots to leave them at the door and walk around in our stocking feet when visiting friends. And, we design the world’s best, most waterproof boots.
- Canadians carry ice scrapers and road salt in the trunks of their cars year-round.
- Canadian males’ external plumbing is indispensable for thawing frozen car door locks. For those with new vehicles equipped with electronic door locking systems, as we frequently say in Canada . . . sorry!
If a local radio or television station broadcasts fake news of a suspected flurry in mid-July, traffic jams will immediately bring all movement on Highway 401, Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway to a halt. (This can also occur without a snow warning.) And, the snow plow is guaranteed to come down your street and send a four-foot snow bank into your driveway right after you’ve spent the morning shoveling it out. Canadians also take pride in eating in TGI Friday’s outside patio in any kind of weather, enjoying our poutine and latté alfresco year-round.
Perhaps because my husband spent his early years on a farm, he’s a weather junkie. He’ll inform me on a Saturday morning that the “wind and rains are going to start on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.”. I’m expected to mentally file that information and immediately start securing the hatches, tie down the patio furniture and make sure I’m safe and sound inside a hurricane-proof facility within twenty-four hours. He has temperature and humidity monitoring devices everywhere—next to his LaZBoy, on his Blackberry, on his laptop, even next to our bed— so, without ever looking out the window he knows what’s going on, can report to me and prepare us for any potential apocalypse.
I don’t think the great creator really intended her people to actually live above the thirtieth parallel but those hearty adventurers who slogged through thigh-deep snow to inhabit what eventually became Canada evolved into strong, resourceful people. Although why immigrants would choose our shitty winters over a country with year-round warmth and sunshine is beyond me. But, then again, perhaps that’s why we’re so strong and resourceful. Not to mention proud and thankful we live in one of the best countries in the world—despite the weather. But if global warming proceeds at its current rate, we’ll soon see our endangered polar bears vainly foraging for food and habitat on the streets of Toronto and winters will be a non-issue. Now, that’s a truly scary forecast.
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