Friday, 31 January 2014

Talking about the weather, but not with Mark Twain

Late January 2013
Late January 2014
So last week, I was picking my way down the hill from the library.  It was bloody cold, but no colder than it normally gets in January in Ottawa.  It occurred to me that it was exactly a year since they started knocking down the house next door.  How do I know this?  I have a blog; try to keep up.  I limped across the street -- I've had a sore knee since before Christmas -- dug out my phone with my frozen fingers and snapped what they've been blasting, stapling, hammering, drilling for the past twelve months.  It now towers over the surrounding houses like a small office block and the workers have mostly moved inside to add those luxury details breathlessly described on the posters on the mesh fence.  I gather the condos will be ready by March, though I doubt I'll see our posh neighbours.  There are several similar structures springing up (well, lumbering up… or concreting up…) and you never see anyone actually living in these places.  The lights are on, but no one's home.  I mentioned this to a gentleman who had paused last winter to watch the blasting and digging and he said:  "That's because they're out late working so they can afford the damn place!"  He probably had something there.

As Charles Dudley Warner once remarked: Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.  (Yes, I know you think Mark Twain said that; he actually quoted Warner during a lecture.)

Here in Hades, everybody complains about the weather, but no one actually remembers it.  Last January, we had rather a lot of snow and some pretty nasty wind chills.  I know this because a)  I was doing a NaBloPoMo that month; and b) I took quite a few pictures while out walking the Accent Snob.   This week, a cabbie told me it was unusually cold and he couldn't remember it being quite this bad.

Actually it isn't.  I know the media has been having a field day over the idea of a polar vortex, but no matter how weird this stuff may seem in the United States, it's what we call "winter" here in Hades. Yet Ottawans forget this every year.  Last year, they were howling because it was cold and it "doesn't usually get this cold…"  This was probably because the previous winter of 2011-2012, we had a freak humidex, if you please, in March, resulting in an unusually prolonged spring.  (Hadean springs usually last two weeks, tops.)

Anyway, I'm trying to make a point.  I was here last winter and this winter (and for a dozen bloody winters before that).  It gets cold here.  Remember that and quit complaining, unless you've got any solutions.