February 6, 2013

I think the calendar is getting screwed up again, or my recollection of time passing is a lot more warped than I thought.

When I was much younger, growing up in London and in elementary school, we used to have something called winter vacation.  I’m sure that my friends and family back home can attest to the fact that indeed, this event still occurs each and every year.

I have clear images of my father, my two brothers and I, turning the back yard on Elias Street into a skating rink.  The hours of dragging that huge wooden beam around the yard. Then the countless hours of watering and freezing our noogies and hands to the bones.  Eventually, the time came when we actually had a bonafide skating rink!

If memory serves me correctly, all this snowfall and freezing temperatures occurred in perhaps late November until about the end of February.  By then, it was getting warmer, and watering the rink became more like watering the grass.

I can remember some Halloweens where it was very, very chilly going out trick-or-treating.  The weather was getting colder, and the first real snowfall that would last, usually came in November.

As time went on, and I got older and moved to Ottawa, there were a few years where the first snowfall would indeed occur before Halloween.  Granted, it wouldn’t last long, but the mere fact that Ottawa is a bit farther north than London, gave reason to realize that winter would seem to come earlier.

Towards my final years in Ottawa though, the old joke about Ottawa having 3 months of summer and 9 months of winter, no longer held true.  There were a couple of Christmases where there was just a smattering of wet snow on the ground.

When I was speaking with my family this Christmas from Taiwan, I was told that, being Christmas and New Year’s, there was hardly any snow on the ground.  My parents mentioned and uploaded pictures of a snowfall at their home.  My friend Gary on the east coast, mentioned that they got a ‘blizzard’ of sorts.  However, a week later, the grass was showing again.

Then I see a news article posted on Yahoo.ca, indicating that Southern Ontario could receive 5-10cm of snow, Central Ontario 10-15cm, and places like Kingston and Brockville could see upwards of 25cm of the white stuff.  Ottawa through Montreal, back to 5-10cm.

Last week I saw articles posted on Yahoo.ca about a huge pile-up of cars on the 401 in Southern Ontario – not too far north of London.

At the rate the weather seems to be heading, don’t be surprised if in a few more years, Canada will be having hot and humid ‘winters’, and snowy cold summers.

From what I kind of remember from my history lessons, whatever culture first developed the calendar, originally had it divided into 10 months.  September was originally the 7th month, October the 8th, November the 9th, and December the 10th.  Each of these being what, the Latin for 7, 8, 9, and 10?  If I’m wrong, someone please refresh my mind.

Over time, it was apparent that the rising and setting of the sun, the changing of the seasons, etc., was just not falling in line with the calendar.  Days needed to be added.  Two more months were then added – July (for Julius Caesar) and August (for Augustus Caesar).  Changes had to be made again and that was how we ended up with February having only 28 days.  Then, as technology was able to accommodate, it was again discovered that we needed a leap year.  So, every four years an extra day was added.  Then someone said that Earth revolves around the sun at about 365.24 days.  Now, every thousands or so, when it should be a leap year, there is no leap year.

Perhaps this is why the seasons and changes are seeming to be screwed up.  Then again, there are those on this planet who attribute the screwy weather to global warming, and the depletion of the ozone layer, and over-industrialization, and countless other reasons.

Whatever the reasons, having grown up in Southern Ontario, even though I’m not a big fan of snow and ice and all that crap, there is something ‘magical’ about living or having lived in a region of the planet where I could truly say, we experienced four distinct seasons.

I’m sure my parents and their parents could describe in more detail, what the four seasons were like for them growing up.  As a young person, I read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  Reading her accounts of growing up in the prairies and the hardships, again, it just seems to have been a ‘magical’ time.

I can remember shovelling our walkways and driveway, and those of neighbours, to the point of having nowhere to put the snow.  I remember walking along the snowbanks along the side of the roads (much to the chagrin of our parents), to and from school.  I remember tobogganing down the hill across the street from St. Joseph’s Hospital in London.  I remember the white-outs and blizzards and power outages while living in Granton.  I remember my first Christmas in the Laurentien Mountains in Quebec, not far from Ottawa.

Although, as I said, I’m not one for snow and cold weather, these memories will last a long time.  Enjoy the snowfall, Ontario!  Soon, it will be hot and humid, and you’ll be wishing for a cold night snuggled up with your down comforter again!

That’s it, that’s all… for now!


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