Weather as Setting
Wind howls outside, audible through the walls, battering the house, rattling through the gutters. Your uniform consists of long johns under jeans, a long sleeve shirt under a sweater and two pairs of thick, expensive socks. Over those you pull expensive Kamik boots and a nice bulky pair of snow pants over your legs. A trusty parka with a deep faux fur-lined hood is next, one that can comfortably accommodate a wool toque underneath, then you wrap a thick wool scarf around that. A pair of thin gloves is a good start, provided you put a thick pair of mittens on top. Now you can go outside.
You know people who check the weather reports compulsively, but why bother? Stepping out the door tells you readily enough. It’s pitch black outside. The wind slams into your face, biting the little bit of exposed skin around your eyes, needling it with pointy fingers. The truck sits there, still, hulking under a frozen shell. It’s only a few years old, well maintained and has a full tank of gas, but we’ll see. The door handle is frozen solid. You give it a whack and it cracks through the ice, opening with a stiff groan of protest. The wind slams into you, cutting right through your layers, jabbing your thighs with pins. Rumbles (the truck) chugs twice and catches, a small victory. You crank every heat setting it has, set the mother on defrost and pull the snow brush out of the backseat. Then you start hacking away.
There is a nice, fluffy layer of snow that brushes off easily. Under that is a hard crust of frozen snow and under that a sheet of ice. Didn’t you just do this yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that? You start with the front windshield and work your way around the vehicle. It is minus 42 degrees Celsius with the windchill, again. You clear the windows and the headlights and start smacking away at the wipers that seem to have become one with the glass. Rumbles runs, but in this weather he will take a solid twenty minutes to warm up and you won’t last that long outside. You get what you can, the windows are the important thing. Your thighs start to burn, sear, the first sign you are running out of time. Your fingers are numb under the layers, but you keep hacking away, brush then scraper, brush then scraper, but when they too start to burn with cold you have to go back inside.
The house feels like a sauna and you breathe, trying to recapture some of the air that the frigid wind wouldn’t let your lungs take it. Only the German Shepherd will venture out with you today, the hounds, even clad in their ridiculous sweaters, scramble back to their beds and avoid eye contact. Don’t make us, their brown eyes seem to say, don’t make us go out in that horror, you madwoman. Nuka lets you put on her collar like a champ and you head back out. Wind hits you in the face and for a second you can’t breathe, sometimes the body just rejects the air because it’s too cold. The corpse of a rose tree slams against the house with a solid whack and a thorny scratch, the large oak tree beside the truck whips in the frigid wind, its bare arms flailing wildly. Nuka scampers around the yard, unperturbed for the time being but if you wait too long even she will start holding up a paw. The sound of reluctant vehicles fills the neighbourhood, and a chorus of mad Canadians scraping at the sheets of weather on their cars so they can venture out for the day joins in. There is not a hint of light in the sky, but eventually the sun will come up. By the time you get home again though, it will be black again. This is winter and this is my current setting.
Posted on January 24, 2014, in Articles, Winter and tagged Canada, Celsius, cold, National Weather Service, Snow, Wind, Wind chill, Winter, Winter Weather advisory. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.