Saturday, February 27, 2016

WINTER BLUES NOT SO BLUE


            I guess this season’s El Nino is stronger than the last El Nino which occurred in 1997-1998 making this 2015-16 edition a “Super” El-Nino. Whatever you want to call it, the results have given us above average temperatures and below average precipitation here on the Western Canadian Prairies and, depending on your preference, it may be a good thing or a bad thing.
From my perspective, after back-to-back winters with bone-freezing temperatures, this season’s milder temperatures and lack o’ snow have provided a nice break, but I don’t own a snowmobile or a snowmobile repair shop or a snow removal business or anything like that, but, you know, you can’t make everybody happy and even I have missed my snowshoeing a bit this year, but, then again, sacrifices have to be made.
            Now that Ground Hog Day is upon us and one of the mildest Saskatchewan Januarys on record has passed us by there might not be so much pressure to escape the winter blues with a hot holiday destination. Mind you, the weather hasn’t been so hot in a lot of the hot spots so maybe a Stay-cation isn’t such a bad idea this year after all.
            Back in the day, though, you didn’t really hear every second person telling you they were heading to Hawaii or Jamaica or Mexico or Cuba or the Dominican Republic for a week or ten days to escape the miserable winter. Sure, there was the odd couple or a rich family that headed somewhere tropical but most people stuck it out at home and made the best of the winter. Did you know that in 1970 Cancun Mexico only had three residents before they started building up the tourism developments on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula? That’s right, three residents and now there are close to three quarters of million people living in Cancun. That was merely 45 years ago folks. But I digress.
            Remember the old winter festivals and carnivals that communities hosted as a distraction to the long winter? During the 1970’s and maybe even into the 1980’s there was an “if you can’t beat it join it” kind of attitude and many area communities hosted some kind of winter festival. Kipling had its Snow Ball Days and Kenossee Lake held the Moose Mush Winter Festival and there were the regional Pipe-Si-Cana Games, too.
            The old festivals had a variety of winter activities like broomball, jam-can curling, snowmobile drag races, pillow fights, (two people facing each other on a log beating the you-know-what out of each other with pillows), regular curling, hockey, and the list goes on and on. Most of the festivals ended with a big cabaret with a live band and the participants partying well into the night. It doesn’t seem like we’ve got the gumption to do that kind of thing anymore. Too many other things going on, I guess.
            So if you aren’t jumping on a plane to warmer climes you might be interested in what the old groundhogs have to say when they make their appearance on February 2nd. I say groundhogs as there are many of the prognosticating rodents being called upon to say whether we’ll be getting an early or late spring. Punxsutawney Phil, Wiarton Willie, Shubenacadie Sam, Balzac Billie or Buckeye Chuck, to name just a few, will be called upon to make their predictions. Unfortunately, Winnipeg Willow will not be one of the participating groundhogs as she passed away only a couple of days before the big event.
            Remember now, if the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow then spring will come early and if it does see its shadow then winter will persist for another six weeks. No one has said what happens if the ground hog dies suddenly just before the 2nd…the apocalypse is upon us perhaps? As always, time will tell.           

            “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”- Victor Hugo-(1802-1885).

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