Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Walking In A Winter Wonderland

I began to work on this blog a few hours ago. However, my fingers slipped on the keys and what I had typed disappeared - even to the draft! So I will try to be more careful this time!

Eastern Canada can be subjected to harsh winter storms and cold weather but this winter of 2013/14 is the coldest and harshest that I have experienced since moving here in 1989 - nor did I experience anything like this while I lived in Prince George, B.C.; Bell Island, Newfoundland; nor Ottawa, Ontario.

Not once but twice we have been beset by an Arctic Vortex - something that I had not encountered before! What is an 'Arctic Vortex'? I have heard two explanations.  The first was that more than one storm system developed and then merged over the north pole and then came south. The first of these systems was the coldest and it was felt as far south as Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. The second - while still cold - was not as harsh as was the first one.

The second explanation was that - instead of moving along the usual route from west to east, the system  (actually, in the end, there were at least three of them) formed in Siberia and then came over the North Pole and down upon us.

It doesn't matter which explanation is the correct one - they were all very cold!  

On Sunday morning a few weeks back  there was an ice storm too. This disrupted the street car service (the ice clung to the overhead wires) so I had to look for an alternative route to get myself to church. I decided upon the ride on the east/west subway to Pape Station and then to take a transit bus down to near Gerrard Street East. However - I forgot one salient point - the bus route traveled down a small valley and the streets leading to the church were all uphill.

I chose the busiest street but still the sidewalks were treacherous. I slipped and fell once and the walk took me at least twenty minutes which is twice as long as it should have taken! The attendance at the service was diminished by the weather conditions but it was still an uplifting experience. After church I returned downtown on the bus that had been put into service to compensate for the lack of streetcars. That vehicle got me to Church Street and brunch without mishap.

Some years ago city council passed an ordinance telling property owners and managers to clear sidewalks of snow and ice. The city owns a large fleet of plows for the roadways and smaller vehicles to clear the sidewalks. However - while the snow is pushed into banks along the side of the walkway, the same thing is not true for the ice underneath. It is still cold outside and - when I go for my daily walks - there are areas where I have to be very careful - there is ice there.

The picture postcard of snow scenes always show pristine white piles of the stuff. In the city the reality is that there is a mixture of salt and sand that is spread in an attempt to clear ice which makes the snowbanks look like piles of granulated brown sugar! 

I have no photos of the view outside during this month of January but I will post a few from other years. It looks pretty - but it is C-O-L-D!!!!

St Mary Street on the south side of this building looking west to Victoria University/College

                                           The courtyard on the south side of this building.

                    The statue of King Edward VII on horseback in the middle of Queens Park 

Michael in Vancouver - look what you are missing, my friend!

One of the romantic poets wrote the following, "When winter comes - can spring be far behind?" Some comic responded with this short phrase, "You bet it can!'


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