Saturday, 6 January 2018

Starting the Year off with a Bang - Some thoughts on climate change and bomb cyclones

The last couple of weeks have been bitterly cold, but yesterday we hit new records. It was -37 where I live, the coldest it has been since the 1950s. Eastern Canada and the U.S. are getting pummelled by a winter storm that has torn off roofs, knocked out power, and caused storm surge that has flooded towns. It's called a bomb cyclone, which is a good description for it. The dogs haven't had a good walk in two weeks -- whenever I try to take them out, they go ten feet, start balancing on two paws, and give me aggrieved looks until I pick them up and cart them back inside. I'm reduced to playing ball in the front hall with Brio.

I've been noticing changes in the summer weather for a while now -- we can grow kiwi here now, and kudzu is starting to invade, and opossums have crept up from the south. We get more intense rainstorms and heat waves, and last year I hardly had to water the garden at all. But now there are differences in the winter weather too. It used to be that we'd herald the appearance of the first robin as a sign of spring coming, and it was always around March 1st. But now the robins don't even leave in the winter; they stay here. We usually only get snow worth shoveling two or three times. The zipper broke on my only winter coat about four years ago and I haven't bothered to replace it because we really didn't need coats all that much.

However, this year we've gotten a lot of snow, and now this deep freeze that gives you an ice cream headache and makes your eyes prickle as they try to freeze over. They say that extreme cold is also a sign of global warming -- someone needs to tighten up the terminology, there -- but whatever you call it, the semantics are the same and it's still tough to live with. I keep a big basket at work just to hold all my cast-offs when I arrive -- longjohns, extra socks, hoodie, coat, two pair of gloves, two scarves. Everyone waddles around looking like overstuffed penguins, with only their eyes showing. You know, there's a new bill in Quebec about Muslim women who wear the niqab having to show their faces to get government services, but personally I think the niqab makes a lot of sense right now! We all look the same, whether it's religious wear or winter wear. Do I have to unwind my two scarves and show my face if I go to Quebec? Would a man?

Anyway, I can't complain about the extreme weather, because it didn't even hit us until late December, whereas often we have snow by Halloween. It was a wonderful, long, warm autumn, and now spring can only be a few months down the road. Even in this deep freeze -- or more likely, because of it -- the sky is a beautiful blue and the sun is bright. I need to install a small greenhouse or sunroom so I can soak up the rays without getting frostbite.

And hey, it's almost time to start getting the seed catalogues out.