Have We Become Cold Weather Wimps?

It’s wintertime and here we are living with temperatures hovering around -30C.  With windchill the number goes up…I mean down.  Windchill factors the impact of the wind into the whole deal and in winter it never means warmer.  There have been some interesting comments about how Canadians are now informed about winter temperatures. 

You know you are of a certain vintage when you say “You think this is cold? Why, when  I was a kid…”.  And you blather on about things way back when. Some of it could be “retrospective bias” but that’s never stopped some of us from talking about it.  

As I sit here with my second cup of hot coffee on a morning when the windchill factor makes it feel like -35,  I am running through my memory of just how cold it was and how you knew it was cold (these memories are of winters in Saskatchewan-on the Canadian prairies):

  • there was a buffalo blanket (really!) to snuggle underneath, a wood stove and a furnace stoked by coal in our small farm house.  It was cool, cool, cool in the morning until Dad got up and got the place heated up once again.
  • Dad owned a weighty coat and hat made of buffalo hide.  I wonder now just how much that coat weighed.  
  • there was frost shield on the kitchen window in order to see when the school bus arrived.  Otherwise the window was opaque-all frosted up-from the inside.  I can’t even find a picture of a frost shield on the internet..am I THAT old?
  • clothes hung outside came back in stiff as a board
  • every winter someone stuck there tongue on some outdoor metal structure at school.
  • you had to let vehicles run for a long time before driving.  The seats were covered in some unforgiving plastic and when you sat on them it was like sitting on a block of ice.  Tires were “square” when you started to drive.  Bump, bump, bump.  Why aren’t they like that now when you start out on a winters day?
  • cardboard would be inserted between the vehicles grill and radiator so the car would   become warm enough to operate decently.  Otherwise your vehicle could freeze up when you are on the road.  With the possibility of deadly consequences.  
  • your nostrils would sort of freeze together if you inhaled too forcefully and tears…well they could freeze on your cheeks. 
  • no polartec, no HotShot handwarmers, but lots of layers and wool and mittens upon mittens.

We survived and thrived.  Without knowing about the windchill factor.

If you have known the very cold, what are your recollections?  

 Oh, and by the way I don’t plan to go out today because it’s too cold.


7 thoughts on “Have We Become Cold Weather Wimps?

  1. I was thinking about those frost shields the other day and tried to explain them to someone ‘younger’. The ‘square tires’ are something that I haven’t thought of for a while…not sure why.–perhaps the tires are of a better quality. I also just mentioned to my husband the other day that I hadn’t seen cardboard in the front of any vehicles this winter.

    I remember the butter that was been stored in the cupboard being almost frozen some winter mornings. We still get frost on the nails some cold windy days. Can you imagine hanging wet clothes outside to ‘dry’ on a cold January morning? .. The thought makes my thumb tingle just thinking about it.

    I do remember creating quite a stir in the school staff room one cold winter morning as how it was so cold I had “hoar frost” on the bed springs.

    Keep warm.

    1. I’d forgotten about butter in the cupboard. And ice that would form on water left in a basin in the porch. Then again you didn’t need a second fridge in the winter-just put things in the porch. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

  2. I was raised in Montreal – long, cold winters when you couldn’t see across the street because the snow was piled so high. But I remember wading through drifts of snow to play in the backyard, scarves wrapped around our foreheads and mouths to prevent frostbite, running into the house when the snowplow came (it was a big blower that chewed up whatever/whomever was playing at the end of the driveway, and one special night sliding repeatedly on a big patch of ice on the street at night with a friend pretending we were graceful figure skaters! All we needed was our imagination and snow!

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