Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chillin' with Phyll

Winter Morning / Tom Thompson
It is bitterly cold in central Canada. Time to plug in your car's block heater at night. I sing the praises of my command start as I press the button from inside my cosy kitchen, instead of running out to start the car and warm it up first, before I leave for work. Not in order to have a comfortable temperature in my vehicle, but so that my car's engine will actually start!
 My dear, thoughtful husband has been plugging in my car before he leaves for work in the morning. (I usually leave a couple of hours later.)  But this morning, apparently that was not enough time to keep the engine warm enough to start -- because as I discovered when it was time to leave for work -- my car was stalled!

Too bad I didn't have this lovely lady handy, with her jumper cables to help me restart the car!

When I eventually arrived at work (my boss came and rescued me), it was to find the busses cancelled (but quite a few students had straggled in anyway) and recess was definitely indoors that day (as it had been almost all week).  The temperature was warming to almost -27 degrees celsius but with the windchill it was definitely more than 30 below, even at midday!

It's not much better today. Have a look at our thermometer this morning.
For it's forty below in the winter,
And it's twenty below in the fall.
It just rises to zero in summer,
And we don't have a springtime at all.
(Christopher Dafoe (1936-) Forty Below)

Well, we don't have too many natural disasters where I'm from. Oh, a forest fire here and there, a bit of flooding maybe, and of course the hordes of mosquitoes and blackflies to fend off all summer long. But life is generally pretty mellow in the boreal forest most of the time...that is, if you can survive the winter...

Archibald Lampman (1861-1899)


J.E.H. MacDonald / Early Evening Winter (1912)
              1    From where I sit, I see the stars,
              2    And down the chilly floor
              3    The moon between the frozen bars
              4    Is glimmering dim and hoar.

              5    Without in many a peakèd mound
              6    The glinting snowdrifts lie;
              7    There is no voice or living sound;
              8    The embers slowly die.

              9    Yet some wild thing is in mine ear;
            10    I hold my breath and hark;
            11    Out of the depth I seem to hear
            12    A crying in the dark;

            13    No sound of man or wife or child,
            14    No sound of beast that groans,
            15    Or of the wind that whistles wild,
            16    Or of the tree that moans:

            17     I know not what it is I hear;
            18     I bend my head and hark:
            19     I cannot drive it from mine ear,
            20    That crying in the dark.

If you think that is a sad and lonely piece of Canadian literature, then get a load of this work of non-fiction!  Frozen in Time is a historical piece of forensic science from a shallow grave in the gradually melting permafrost of the Arctic tundra. The discovery of some of the crew  members of the lost Franklin Expedition of 1845 by anthropologists from the University of Alberta was led by author Owen Beattie in 1981 (and has since been updated with new research in 2004). It is a tragic mystery story and also a cautionary tale.  What sticks most in my mind about it was that there is evidence that the local Inuit people tried to help the doomed crew, but they were too proud of their supposed "technological superiority" to accept the help of a people they believed were beneath them!  This  was certainly proof of the aphorism: "pride cometh before a fall".  After all, I don't recall hearing much about Inuit people freezing to death!

Lawren Harris / Icebergs, Davis Strait (1930)

The story of the search for the fabled Northwest Passage has lured many explorers to Canada's frozen northland. It has also inspired many artists and musicians.  Which brings me of course, to Canada's greatest folk musician and songwriter -- Stan Rogers and his song "The Northwest Passage".

Stan Rogers / The Northwest Passage

I am amazed by how often I have been able to discover new "favourite" songs from the wonderful music videos made by fans of Richard Armitage. I am sure I had heard of this group, but I had never had the pleasure of hearing the song "Frozen Oceans" before. Of course, any song is made more special by the addition of pictures of Mr. Armitage! :)

Shiny Toy Guns / Frozen Oceans by TheCICLAMINO

Then there is this interesting movie "Frozen" 2005, (that I have yet to see) in which RA has a rather small but riveting part. The following video shows basically all his scenes in it.

Richard Armitage in Frozen

Now that film does seem pretty cold alright. But if Richard Armitage were really frozen, this is how I imagine he might look...

Thanks again, Face in Hole!
Come to think of it, he couldn't possibly stay like this -- he is hotter than a thousand suns! There, that's better, I'm finally starting to warm up!


mulubinba said...

Wow - I've never been in temperatures that low, Phylly!! Enjoy staying warm with lots of lovely music, books and the occasional RA DVD :)

tyme_4_t said...

One of your best posts ever! Isn't Kiefer's mom one of the coolest ladies out there! And Stan Rogers - brilliant!
I should show this post with to the whiners at work who were complaining about it being -5!

Avalon said...

You can move South w/ me.

MaryKwizMiz said...

LOL @ Frosty the Snowman :)
I'm cold just looking at the pics.. almost forgot. We had the meanest winter in ages all through December, down to -28°C (which is VERY cold for these here parts) and then it went almost spring-like over the last two weeks. So much so that I turned the heating off and slept with the window open.
BUT.. weather just started reminding us that winter is far from over, sub-zero temperatures again, though only down to -4 at night.. and only thin patches of snow now and then.. bracing myself for round two.
You're doing the right thing looking at hotties (apologies Mr. A) to keep warm.

Anonymous said...

Ah, that little thingy known as wind chill factor. Somewhat further south, in The Capital, it was minus 35 C today. The car actually started without having been plugged in. Though it did persist in shivering for 5 minutes...

Oughtn't complain, "mild" over the December hols at least! And the snowbanks haven't yet reached six feet... :D

Just off to bump up the furnace a fraction...



Phylly3 said...

@mulubinba-- Yes, thanks -- I can definitely stay warm thinking about Mr. Armitage! :)
@tyme_4_t -- I'm so pleased you like this post! Thank you!
@Avalon--You might be sorry you offered. I may remind you some day!
@TTN--Europe has had an unusually cold, snowy winter. This type of weather is not unusual for my part of the world at all. It has already warmed up today.
@fitz--Yes. December was lovely here too. It really hasn't been too bad of a winter this year. If only it was a shorter season I wouldn't mind it much at all!

Anonymous said...

Shorter? As in about 6 months ahorter? :)


Phylly3 said...

@Fitz-- LOL No, a 3 month winter would be great. But it really is almost 6 months long here! We had a later fall than usual this year so that was great. This type of cold is pretty normal for us in Northwestern Ontario this time of year(and the rest of Central Canada). Sometimes it lasts several weeks at a time! So, to complain about just one week of uncomfortable temperatures, I feel like a bit of a whiner! :)