Below Normal


At work the other day a guy from the Big Box Store came up to me and said, “We have four seasons in this part of the country… Winter, Still Winter, Construction and Almost Winter.” I laughed because as a Canadian I totally understand what he means. It is either winter here or cold enough to remind that winter is close. 

This winter has been respectable the temperatures have been moderate and the snowfall minimal but this is not the norm as was the case in the winter of 2013-14.


April 2014


below0007Apr 6

I read today that I have endured the coldest winter in a hundred and twenty years. Not just me but everyone in the Canadian prairies. I don’t know if I should be happy or depressed. The sun has finally made an appearance and yes, the snow is starting to melt but I won’t believe winter is gone until I am forced to go cut the grass.


Usually by this time of the year, a time most of us like to call spring, we are getting our to-do lists together for spring cleaning and yard maintenance. Normally my wife would be blueprinting the changes she is planning for her gardens. I would be readying the mowers by changing the oil and re-inflating the tires (one always seems to go flat over the winter). We would be pulling out the patio and deck furniture and quite frequently even sitting out on the deck in the afternoon and enjoying the warmth of the sun. I say usually because there is still three feet of snow covering the deck and patio and the garage door is frozen shut!!!


Even though the temperatures have started to rise and the last few days the daytime highs have gone above freezing, Environment Canada, our national weather service, has continued to issue statements that include the term “below normal temperatures”. Since mid-October that has been the phrase that they have stood by. The other term that those government devils use is “above average”. As in the amount of snowfall we’ve been getting!!


below0008This winter has been so vicious that a report from one of the areas wildlife reserves said that a flock of geese had landed in the marsh, stayed for a day then left and headed back south. They’re CANADIAN Geese!! I’ve seen these things land on frozen lakes with open water the size of a swimming pool and stay!!! These animals have some kind of special weather sense that allows them to forecast better than Environment Canada!! What does that say about the next month?!!! Do I put away my parka???


Weather forecasting is a far cry from a precise science. I’m sure that some days the forecasters just get out the Ouija board or the trusty 8-ball to make the forecast. The question they have asked is a simple one, “Will it be colder than normal today?” Shake the ball, turn it over and presto… the reply is “most certainly”. It’s been the same answer all winter!!! Hey weather forecasters… FIX THE DAMN BALL AND BURN THE OUIJA BOARD!!!


Now I could continue to rag all over Environment Canada and every other weather forecasting organization on the planet but they’re not at fault. They’re just the messengers. We all know whose fault this winter is and I’ve made it perfectly clear how I feel about her.


Apr 10


below0006Okay it appears that things are improving. After three straight days of above zero temperatures, which are still below normal for this time of year, the snow is starting to melt rapidly. I can now see the outside corners of the deck and that appears to be grass surrounding some of the trees in my yard.


The other sure sign of spring is that the melting snow is turning the ditches to fast flowing rivers and some of the melting snow is sending water into my garage and down to my basement. Water is leaking through a small crack somewhere in the foundation and out from under the washing machine. This isn’t a new thing it is part of the spring ritual in my home. Left unchecked this would eventually cause damage but we are prepared. I have hooked up the shop-vac to a hose and every hour or so either my wife or I go and vacuum up the water and send it down the drain. Why doesn’t the water go directly to the drain? Because someone put the drain in the high spot!! They must have known I would someday move in and why make it easy on me!!


below0004The last sure sign of spring is that the Masters Golf tournament has begun. Augusta looks great. The flowers are in bloom, the grass looks bright green on my HDTV and all appears right with the world again. Golf courses here on the Canadian prairies are still a few weeks from opening but if the temps continue to rise, it may happen sooner than later.


The water has stopped flowing into my basement and as I sit and watch the golf I am feeling much better that the worse winter in my lifetime has come to an end. Wait a second!! Something doesn’t look right about the Augusta National Golf Course. They changed the seventeenth hole!! There’s something missing. Where did the big massive tree that made the tee shot on 17 so hard go??? A quick internet search reveals that the tree was destroyed during an ice storm two months ago. SHE KILLED THE EISENHOWER TREE!!!


It seems that no place on this continent was untouched by this winter. I remember that storm; it’s the one that stranded all the motorists on the highway in Atlanta! People slept on lawn furniture at Home Depot!! I was in the DR at the time and was thinking how absurd it all was and grateful I was in the tropics. Little did I know that at the time that storm was destroying one of my favorite golf courses!! That woman left nothing untouched!!


below0010Apr 12


Yesterday I had the feeling that it was all over… Today it’s snowing again!!! Not just a little flurry but a full blown covers everything, snow storm!! In six hours I have three more inches of new white stuff covering my deck again!! STOP ALREADY!! I know three inches doesn’t sound like much but this is heart-attack snow! It’s wet and weighs a ton per square inch!! The Trans-Canada highway was a mess. Covered in snow and icy slush it was a bear to navigate.


I’m not new to any of this. It happens every spring. A last gasp… a gentle reminder that it’s not over until she says it’s over. As a further reminder that it’s not over, the forecast calls for below normal temperatures for the next week!!! This last little tirade will mean that I have been staring at snow for seven months! There’s only twelve months in a year!! And she’s going to make it rain for one of the remaining non-winter months!!! Four months is all I can realistically expect to be able to sit on my deck and have morning coffee.


below0005Am I whining?? Damn straight I am! I work and considering morning coffee is usually in my truck before the sun rises I will only get a maximum of 24 days to have coffee at home before winter strikes again. I can also guarantee that she’ll make it rain for half of them. Twelve lousy days!!! I have every right to whine!! What the hell did I do to her? I recycle… I plant new trees to replace old ones… I try to reduce my environmental footprint… why can’t you just behave normally??


This winter has made me come to one conclusion, Mother Nature is currently menopausal and the furthest thing from normal. She’s erratic and unstable and yes that sounds harsh and unfair. After all, we all share in some of the blame for causing the kind of weather shift we are seeing, and the woman’s reaction may not be because of a hormonal imbalance but let’s not forget… SHE KILLED THE EISENHOWER TREE!!!


Now that’s harsh.