By PAT WATSON
Weather at this time of year is either sunny and (very) cold or milder – that is relatively milder – and cloudy. It would be easy to say pick your poison, but we don’t get to choose our weather. We do, however, get to choose how we appreciate it.
You could resolve to spend the better part of our six-month long winters indoors. Jobs that make telecommuting available would allow for that plan. If you were retired, staying indoors at length would also be a possibility.
The problem, though, is the inevitable occurrence of “cabin fever”. That’s the miserable mood that descends on any individual who spends too much time indoors. We have to therefore brave the challenging weather at some point, even if it means heading purposefully to the nearby convenience store for a few must-have supplies.
Canada leads most developed countries in the use of electronic communication – phoning and texting. It has to be because it is a convenient method for maintaining social relations during long, forbidding winters.
As if last winter’s ice storm and the subsequent power failures that left hundreds of thousands shivering in their homes had not been enough, we have now lost count of the number of cold weather alerts issued for this region during this current winter season.
Furthermore, similar power outages related to the frigid temperatures and high winds have occurred over the past few days. You could just hear the groans of “oh no, not again” from those affected in the midtown and Etobicoke areas where these occurred. And, these outages were not momentary. One would have thought that given what transpired in last winter’s disaster, our local electrical utility service would have been better organized for rapid resolution of these occurrences, given the critical life or death threat that comes with this persistent arctic-type weather.
With this weather pattern, lives have been lost in Toronto. The number of fatalities is already higher than during last year’s bitter and enduring cold.
Last Saturday, when many would have preferred to celebrate their love for each other, it having been Valentine’s Day, a wind blew through this region that felt love for no one.
It’s one thing to experience -30 Celsius when the air is still. It is quite another when that temperature is the result of winds approaching hurricane force.
The way things are currently, we hear less in these parts about “global warming” and much more about “climate change”.
For those who can remember a few decades back, the current winters are more reminiscent of those times. Although, the tenacity with which the sub-zero temperatures hold on these days is what marks this period.
So if we can’t get outdoors, the next logical step, dollars providing, is to get out of the region entirely. A week away can make all the difference in being able to put up with the rest of the six months of deep freeze.
Many retirees regularly leave here in the late fall and return in time to get their income tax statements submitted. But, since we humans are always finding ways to confound each other, that practice that turns many Canadians into “snowbirds” – flying south for the winter like the Canadian geese – is now closely monitored by your government. If, for instance, you like to take off to your condominium or to your relatives in Florida, you have 183 days to enjoy your time there before you stand to lose your healthcare coverage.
Computer technology makes it much easier for government agencies to flag those who exceed that time limit. Of course, you can always invest in private healthcare insurance, if you are well situated financially, and ignore any of that bureaucratic concern.
Climatologists tell us that these sustained weather patterns will become the norm. So it looks like seniors and retirees will have to mobilize to get that away period extended. This would be what we would call adjusting to climate change.
A note on labour pains…
In Ontario striking health workers are now going to arbitration with the provincial government over wages. In Ottawa, the federal government took steps to enact back-to-work legislation to remove CP Rail workers’ right to strike. Just in time, the feds and the union will go to arbitration.
Pat Watson is the author of the e-book, In Through A Coloured Lens. Twitter@patprose.