Thursday, 15 January 2015

LIFE IN A NORTHERN TOWN

I was reminded of something during a Facebook conversation. Not everybody lives in snowbound areas. One of my friends asked what things we did daily to cope with the winter. This seemed like a good topic for a blog post so here it is.

In most of Canada and many northern American states, the snow stays from November to March or April. This means that homeowners, business managers, and apartment superintendents need to keep sidewalks free of snow and ice. Cities like Edmonton, Alberta's capital, have bylaws stating that sidewalks must be shoveled up to forty-eight hours after a major snowfall ends or the City will clear the snow and charge the owner of the property.

Street plowing is also a day-to-day reality for us. The bill for clearing the roads of a large city can be as high as a million dollars per winter, depending on snowfall amounts. The same is true of highways and rural roads. Many cities enact parking bans so that the entire avenue can be plowed. Violators are fined, even though the bans are widely publicized by the city or municipality.

Another reality is scraping frost and snow off of vehicle windshields. Motorists carry a large brush with a long handle in their cars and trucks so the job is a bit easier. Ice is harder to remove. Folks carry a scraper in their vehicles for those times when the windshield needs clearing.

Here in Canada, vehicles have heaters to keep the engine block from freezing. I remember the time when I was in Mexico and a friend thought that my driver and I owned an electric car. I also spoke to a visitor from California who asked for help starting her car. She had no idea what I meant when I asked if she plugged it in at night. This is why vehicles need to be parked near a power outlet or an extension cord needs to be stretched between the vehicle and the plug-in.

The worst weather during winter is when freezing rain falls. It turns streets into skating rinks and sidewalks into dangerous places, particularly for the elderly.

Citizens dress in well-insulated coats and wear several layers of clothing. At extremely low temperatures, even a slight breeze can freeze exposed skin in less than five minutes. Wise people bundle up and wear wind-resistant clothes to prevent hypothermia.

This post would become way too long if I listed all the things we need to do to stave off the cold of winter so I'll end here. Please check out my first two books at the Bruce Atchison's book page as well as at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.