Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: It’s cold; but it’s a lot colder back east

Robert’s column

The polar vortex that has driven temperatures in much of North America down to what is considered warm on Mars has, as usual, left Vancouver Island pretty much unscathed — until just recently.

I’ve always found it refreshing to spend some time working in my garden during the winter months at my Island home, preparing it for the spring planting, while Canadians from the rest of Canada typically deal with their deep-freeze issues in temperatures that will cause frost bite on exposed skin within minutes.

It’s something I’ve had to contend with for most of my life while living in other parts of the country.

I remember living in Toronto many years ago at this time of year.

I would get a shower in the morning preparing to go to work and, during the 10 seconds it took me to walk from the front door to my car, my wet hair would almost instantly freeze solid on my head.

It was so cold that it would hurt just to breath and you would have to take short intakes of air to avoid taking in too much frozen air directly into the lungs.

Daily living during those winters turned into a struggle for survival as you took on the death-defying challenge of driving on slippery and snow-bound roadways, and risking heart attacks as you shoveled out the wet and heavy snow from your homes and businesses.

While living in northern Newfoundland, the snow-belt of that province, I would regularly have to start my day by finding my car somewhere buried in the snow bank that had formed overnight on it, and then dig the car completely out before making my way to work.

But most people living in the colder parts of the country deal with this reality for long periods every year, and most survive it with good grace and a deprecating sense of humour.

That’s why I’m so surprised and amused by the reactions of many Vancouver Islanders when the temperatures here dip below zero, as it has over this past week.

Although the coldest I’ve seen it here so far this year has been -6 C, compared to -36 (and colder with the wind chill) in many other parts of Canada, I’ve watched many Islanders react as if a new ice age has descended on us.

If Toronto was just -6 C right now, people would be sitting on outdoor decks wearing shorts, but many Islanders I’ve seen over the past week have on full ski-doo suits with their heads so wrapped in tuques and scarves that all you can see are people’s eyes.

Although we had just a sprinkling of snow on the Island’s east coast on Monday morning, an employee of my brother’s store in Nanaimo phoned in to say that he felt uncomfortable driving his car the five-minute ride from his house to work because of the “winter conditions” on the roads.

He said that if the road conditions didn’t get any better by Tuesday morning, he would catch a bus to work.

While I tend to snicker at such stories, the truth is that I’ve been living on the Island for so long now that I wonder if I would accept living in other parts of Canada at this time of year with the good grace that I had in the past.

I’m just glad to live here.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Cowichan-based company provides glass alternatives to plastic straws

Enviro Glass Straws now producing more than 60,000 staws each year

Lexi Bainas column: Roger Sparkes honoured, CVAC art show now new and improved

A well-deserved posthumous award goes to Cowichan Theatre’s biggest booster

Workshop helps Cowichan residents understand basic of dementia journey

Free Getting to Know Dementia workshop to Duncan on Thursday, May 2.

Drivesmart column: Liability: pedestrians and drivers turning left

Alexander Zacher was walking to work early on the morning of Oct. 31, 2014 in Tsawwassen.

Robert Barron column: Will the opioid crisis ever end?

There were 31 small white crosses placed about a half-foot apart

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Coming up in Cowichan: Easter Eggspress; knitting workshops

Hop aboard the Easter Eggspress at the BCFDC The Easter Eggspress is… Continue reading

Deadly synthetic drug found in Kamloops that puts users in ‘zombielike’ state

Interior Health warning says substance causes ‘speedy, trippy-like symptoms’ and hallucinations

Trudeau to be portrayed on ‘Simpsons’ episode

Toronto journalist who’s posted videos of himself doing impressions of the PM voiced him for the show

Elizabeth May’s wedding dress a ‘walk through a garden’ on Earth Day

Green Party leader set to get married in Victoria

Campbell River RCMP say alcohol and speed may be factors in collision

Woman injured after driver ran into her car on Highway 19A, says fire captain

Number of ancient humans continues to grow after discovery

Scientists identify at least 12 species outside of Homo sapians following discovery in Philippines

Bodies of 3 mountain climbers recovered after last week’s Banff avalanche

The men disappeared while attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak in the Icefields Parkway

Happy birthday: Queen Elizabeth II turns 93 on Easter Sunday

Sunday is the first of two birthday celebrations each year for the queen

Most Read