Right now either the charcoal black of my wool socks or the burnt orange of my handmade lopi knit scarf.
It’s been a bitterly cold week. The temperatures have been lingering around the minus thirty degree mark. Combine that with a bit of a windchill and you’ve got a feels-like temperature somewhere in the -40s.
On the bright side we finally got some snow. (Winter without snow is just brown, dirty and gross.)
On the down side, the Kid and I tried to go for a walk in our snowshoes. The snowshoes were not really necessary, of course, as the snow was only a few centimeters deep, but they were a kind of motivation to be outside.
We dressed up. We grabbed the snowshoes. We walked over to the park two minutes away. We put on our shoes… and we were already unbearably cold. We walked around for about five minutes before we couldn’t feel our fingers anymore and decided to pack it in.
Maybe next year will be warmer.
So, while I’m writing ex post facto, it is actually because of these events (and the anticipatory anxiety leading up them) that I didn’t actually get a chance to write a proper post for December 20 and am going to pre-date this one to land on this day, detailing some events that started late in the evening and proceeded well through the night and into the wee hours of the next morning.
23:10 Wherein between (a) not quite realizing the net-positive change in time that I’ll gain traveling in the middle of the night as opposed to rush hour and (b) wanting a good parking spot, I leave the warmth of my house much too early and arrive at the Old Timers Cabin parking lot in about 12 minutes, a trip that would in daylight traffic take a solid twenty to twenty-five. I’m wearing my running kit, obviously.
23:40 Due the cold and the fact I’m wearing light running gear in sub-zero temperatures, I decide that standing beside Leon’s at-capacity two-seater truck for much longer is going to make me hypothermic, so I retreat to my own vehicle and its residual warmth to await the start.
23:52 I get bored sitting in my rapidly-cooling truck alone and decide that the hundred-and-fifty-so other runners, some adorned in holiday costumes and literal decorations, will probably provide enough group warmth to get me through the pre-run wait.
23:59 Announcements flutter through the midnight air, a verbal course map and some warnings about the ice on the route struggle to be heard above the din. We’re anxious and jumping up and down to keep warm.
00:03 We start running. Two hundred midnight loons start the long trudge up the ice-covered Scona hill walking path, headlamp beams bobbing in the frosty air. I’d describe more, but a run is a run, no matter when or where or how you do it. The details fog with the blur of that gentle accent to optimal performance state.
00:08 My body reminds me why I don’t run distance in the middle of the night and that it would rather be at home in bed.
00:18 In stark contrast to the rational inclinations of my daytime mind, I celebrate the darkest night of the year and the winter solstice by drinking a shot of something warm and tingly and spiced from a glass attached to a cross country ski with three other sweaty men in the dimly lit shadows of some trees (where for legal reasons I’m convinced was private property.)
00:19 We reach the turn-around point. The last time I was at roughly this point of the earth I was running the opposite direction on Canada Day and staring down the last 5 klicks of a very different sort of run.
00:41 After tackling the obstacle of running while descending an extremely icy hill in the dark after midnight (I think that was a rule in a horror movie of some kind) we stop our watches and tackle the obstacle of walking while descending an extremely icy hill in the dark after midnight towards the inviting glow of a bonfire and festive treats.
00:48 Much photos are taken, but not by me because my phone only has 18% battery left and the lens fogged up.
01:10 Still shivering, having waited a fair length of time and cold-shocked that single (hour old) ounce of alcohol from my system, and now with the heat full-up and heated seats cranked to max, I pull out of the Old Timers Cabin parking lot and start the drive towards home.
It’s still cold outside. Really cold. In fact a few minutes before I went to write this, the following message came over the notification on my phone:
Extreme Cold Warning
Issued at 19:22 Friday 16 December 2016
A period of very cold wind chills is expected.
Clear skies and cold Arctic air are causing temperatures throughout Alberta to plummet this evening and wind chill values are already reaching -40 in several regions.
…and it goes on, generally informing readers how not to die of hypothermia tonight while they sleep. Welcome to Canada, folks!
Because of the cold weather and despite the fact that we’re still a few slabs of quartz short of a full kitchen, I was able to piece together a rather respectable chili tonight for dinner, chopping veggies at the dining table and generally trying to limit my mess. And it helped the whole production along that we had a brand new cast iron dutch oven to break in, too.
Or as Claire says: “Ahhhh! Why did you let him buy more cast iron, mom!”
I took a bit of some cash I got for my birthday recently and invested it in yet another piece of kitchen kitsch that will likely outlive me. It turns out that pre-holidays shopping is almost as good as Boxing Day or Black Friday sales. (The kid is gonna be cooking in style… at least some day when I’m through with it all and she inherits it all!) We rounded out our cast iron collection with a 7 quart (roughly 7 litre for we not as familiar with crazy american sizing) dutch oven. It’s weighs about fifteen pounds and sits on the stovetop like a glorious cauldron of epic cooking awesomeness. And it simmered up one heck of a chili.
I helped, too.
And Claire actually ate most of her serving… despite the beans.
Just going to throw this out there: Dear weather, you can warm up a bit now. Minus twenty was funny for a few days, but really? Sincerely, my toes.
I don’t know what it’s called but probably something about having a never ending cold and feeling like you want to go back to bed.
It was very cold today. Very cold. The temperature on my phone said -19C. And apparently the windchill made it feel more like -28C. So, my camera with full batteries, lasted about twenty minutes.
I lasted nearly an hour and covered a slow (due to camera setup and other things) not-quite-eight.
For all the frozen-ness of the world this morning, there were more than a few brave souls out. Not lots, but I passed more than ten people on my route out through the south stretch of Terwillegar and back. The sun was the only thing keeping me going. I was basically solar powered. Had it been cloudy, I think I would have turned back two klicks in and called it a close-enough-to-four that I was happy.
It took me half an hour and a hot shower to warm back up to normal. But I got some cool pics.
That spending the morning with my Californian cousins will highlight just how Canadian I really am.
Find an excuse to go outside.
Here we go again… December is Blog-Every-Day Month. No guidelines. No rules. No set topic. No nothing no how. Just an article with at least one complete sentence, every day…
December 18… because fire.
We were watching TV when the typical barrage of sirens blared down the street. It seems funny to put it that way, but we live just up the road from a fire hall and it’s a weekly event to hear the trucks racing by with their sirens howling on their way to a call.
The lights flashed by our window, and I ignored it… at first. But then the light flashing against the curtains, blinking red-and-off-red-and-off didn’t go away.
I paused the TV and got up to look out the window, expecting to see a single truck responding to yet another false alarm at the condo down the road, but instead my jaw hit the window sill as I watched the billow of smoke rising out of what seemed to be my neighbour’s back yard.
It turned out it was one of the little townhomes one street over, fire consuming it so fast and so large we could sometimes see the flames licking at the sky from our living room window. And by the time we went to bed a hour and a half later, the fire had been reduced, but the number of responders had increased dramatically. I could see nine engines, and that was not counting the (at least) one close to the fire. Reporters (or at least guys with big shoulder-mounted cameras) were crawling about, and the various other support vehicles (fire investigation and ambulances) had our street jammed, too.
I read in the news this morning that thankfully there were no injuries, but I’m sure that only partially dampens the pain of a few people who are homeless this morning.
Of course, mother nature, you’re going to make those last 40 klicks towards my annual goal cold, windy and very challenging, aren’t you?