Saturday, December 12, 2009

Shattering Cold

My lamp shade, made of fine asian plastic, shattered last night. Whoever thought it was a good idea to transport the poor thing when it's 49 below 0 should be kicked.    Ow.

Whodathunk. The most banal of activities becomes painstakingly difficult and time-consuming when it is nearly -50 degrees Celsius. Like getting a key in a lock. Like trying to jam the block heater's plug into the extension cord. Like just plain going outside.

It's all funny stuff in retrospect, but swear-worthy in the moment. Yesterday, I had a lot I wanted to get done. It was our Christmas party for the French association (my first real event), and I had plans to spend the day running errands, baking, and pulling stuff together to haul over to coffee shop where the event was to be held. I heard jokes being made on Rosie's alarm clock radio that morning about the cold. That should have been my first clue: when northerners start joking about the coldness of the cold, it must be pretty dang frosty. And when I looked outside, everything was covered in a haze of cold...not fog, not smoke, not frost... a haze of cold. Second foreboding clue. My third clue was much less a clue than a blatant affirmation of the statement: my car was toast. And when I say toast, I mean it in the exact opposite way the thermal qualities of toast implies: it was frozen solid.

I could try to blame its non-compliant state on the west-coast sissyism of a non-block-heater-equipped vehicle...but there was really no one to blame but me. I JUST had a block heater put in my car last week.  I was in denial. I refused to park in the parking space allotted to me, 301-3 Neville place, way at the back of our building... but furnished with electrical. Instead, I opted for a spot at the, I say this facetiously, much more convenient FRONT of the building, at which location which I had developed a naively autumnal habit of parking. ''One last time..'' I told myself thursday night as I parked. Famous last words.

So, she wouldn't go. My little Honda civic, that has driven across the country more than once, that has suffered weeks worth of Winnipeg winters, that has endured a good solid month of NWT winter, has decided that the -40's are the limit. No indication that -29 was even NEARING a problem. But give that girl a couple extra negative degrees and she is indignant. And any other day I could have done without her, but on this particular day, where a sound system needed to be picked up, where grocery runs for bags of flour and jugs of juice, where boxes of decorations needed to be hauled, I needed the ol' girl. As David Ives once said, it's all in the timing.

So I became a poor helpless southerner calling out for help from more seasoned northerners. I called my friend Jordan (who also, handily, happens to be somewhat of a caretaker for our building, since his parents own it) to come to my rescue. ''Jordan??'' I whined....''My car is frozen. What do I do now? I don't want to have to pay for a tow truck,...'' then sheepishly added ''...and I can't plug in because I didn't park near my plug last night.'' So the good lord Jordan and his friend Darcy came over and blessed me with 3 extension cords to run all the way from the back of the building to my car out front, where I made use of the precious block heater for the first time in my car's life. And 2 hours later, TA-DA! A started car.

The cold went from bad to worse yesterday. After I got my car started, Darcy and I were collecting the cables...the frozen 15-metre-pencils that stubbornly (and moments later, dangerously) refused to allow us to manipulate them in any way. As we were pulling one inside the building, it cracked in half and sent sparks flying everywhere. The bitter cold had frozen the plastic casing and the wires within, so that any attempt at folding or rolling up the cable would end up in a snap. Moral of the story: UNPLUG frozen cables before handling them.

So I went about my day, running my errands, everything requiring twice as much time as usual. Odd, because I myself did not feel all that cold. My body was handling the cold fine. But you know how when people make small talk about weather and say things like ''oh, but it's a dry cold'' or ''oh, that moisture chills right to the bone!''....I finally have experienced all of these classic colds, and can attest to their pertinence. It really is a dryer cold up here, so it doesn't feel nearly as bad in your nostrils or in your bones. That doesn't negate the fact that it still is REALLY cold, and everything else (besides your body) breaks down around you as a result. And holding your keys in an un-mittened hand for the 30 seconds it takes to open the outside door to your apartment can be a painful experience.

Also, did I mention that my car in now officially a clunker? As of yesterday, really, litterally, a clunker. It clunks. And shakes. The trunk refuses the latch, the doors refuse to close because the locks are jammed, and ice builds up like concrete in my wheel wells. It really, really, really does not like winter here.

As for me, I'm not clunking. I've still got a skip in my step. And I sure am a sight for sore eyes in my winter bundles.

Happy wintering folks.

1 comment:

  1. i want to make you tea tuck you into a papazan.