Winter in the Great White North

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I live near Red Deer in Alberta, which is 1.5 hours drive south of Edmonton, or north of Calgary, depending on what you are more familiar with. I suspect this means that I am the Sister farthest north in latitude! Or is that longitude…. 🙂 Last Friday Winter arrived, and decided to stick around. We’d had a cold snap in early October, but the snow melted within a day, and most of November was warm. But Winter is here to stay now I think. It wasn’t too cold over the weekend, but early this week the temperature dropped. The high for today is -10 Celsius, with an overnight low of -24. It will warm up a little tomorrow and Saturday, but drop again on Sunday. We have about 10-15 cm of snow on the ground. Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is mixed with some ice, and the roads in my town are now a dirty white. It is a small town, and there are no snow removal plans like Edmonton, where I used to live. Calgary generally doesn’t remove its snow, as chinooks arrive regularly to melt it off the concrete at least.

What is a chinook you might ask? It is a warm wind that comes from the south, curving off the mountains and heading into the great plains to be gobbled up by arctic weather patterns. You can see a ‘chinook arch’ in the clouds in the sky when it is there – a clear line or break in the clouds from one horizon to the other (almost). It’s quite neat. One day I’ll have to try to get a good picture of it. And….today the sun rose at 8:24. It will set at 4:26. That’s right – only 8 hours of daylight! As we move closer to the Solstice in the next few weeks, that time will shorten. In Edmonton, it is even shorter (8:29 and 4:19). The flipside to this is that in June, we have daylight from about 5 to 11. 🙂 I will be going for a walk later today, and will have to concentrate on the experience so that I can describe it to you with wonderful adjectives so you can get the full effect!

Having said all of that – I have to agree that this is also a ‘bear time’ for me. I call it my winter denning. I want to enter my den and not come out again until spring. The cold weather, the dark, and the slow energy after the hectic summer catches up and I want to stay inside, cook and eat, sleep, and maybe get around to crafts. Thankfully there are winter sports to get me outside, and the silly need to work and pay the bills to make me interact with other people. 🙂

Someone asked, why do you keep track of the seasons so intently? For me, it is another way to observe the wheel of the year. And I particularly enjoy watching the plants make their changes through the seasons – birth, growth/flowers, and fruit-fall. Here, we have 4 distinct seasons, and I know other places do not. Winter and Summer dominate, with Spring and Fall making short appearances. If you blink, you might miss them! 🙂 Winter can last for up to 8 months, depending on how you define it. Usually there is snow on the ground between October to April. But it can snow in May, and September to. Spring can be just warm winter days, and then it blends quickly into summer. Fall seems like cool summer days, until the snow comes. Oh, and our growing season is traditionally considered to be from May 21 to September 21. Most avid gardeners start their seeds indoors to get a jump start.

Hmmm….I think that might be it for now. I’m off to buy some eggs to do some baking, and go to my local library!