Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Saskatoon Mornings

It's dark when we get up. Pitch dark, as though it were much earlier than it really is. In Saskatoon the sun arrives a little later every day. Today's sunrise is said to be at 9:06, a time that will presumably increase until the solstice, and then gradually decrease as the phenomenon reverses itself. 

Getting going in the mornings isn't as hard here as one might think. Once you're awake it's best to get moving. Rebecca sometimes stirs when she sees me sitting on the edge of the bed, reaching for daily medications, but more often she stays on her warm spot atop the feather comforter. She only raises her head in anticipation when she sees me grab my Carhartt bibs. The overalls go over a layer of sweats or long underwear, which is paired with a t-shirt and pullover hoodie. Then come the SmartWool socks, -40 snow boots, a scarf and touque, all covered with a down filled parka and Thinsulate mits. This is all to take the dog out and start the car.

Rebecca, is anxious to get outside and wastes no time finding a new spot to yellow in the snow. If I have time, I take her for a quick trot to expel other business, otherwise I connect her to the lead attached to the porch. Rebecca loves the snow, her feet do not. It gets in the cracks between her paw pads causing her to limp on alternating feet. As soon as she's done, I scurry her back inside. 

Next comes the scraping. The car windows require scraping just about every morning. The process takes between 5 and 10 minutes. It's at this point that any exposed skin begins to sting from the extreem cold, which brings me to a key point. As long as you are covered, the cold isn't that bad here. It will freeze your skin given enough time, between 5 and 10 minutes depending on the wind chill, but the cold here doesn't get inside you. It's not like San Francisco where the chill resides under your skin. It's a very dry cold, one that must be respected.

Once the windows are scraped we are ready to go. The temp inside the car resembles a meat locker, despite the fact that it's been running for at least 10 minutes. I'm told to really warm up a car it takes about 30 minutes, but we don't have that kind of time. My mits stay on as we pull out onto the unplowed residential road. New snow actually makes the road easier to drive on, otherwise, it's essentially ice covered with a bit of loose snow. Pretty much everyone takes it slow on the slick roads, especially in the morning. 

As I join the procession that heads downtown I can't help but admire the resilience of the people who live here. Saskatooners love the outdoors, and even on cold, cold mornings it's not uncommon to see people walking to work, waiting at unsheltered bus stops or even riding winterized bicycles. In the afternoons scores of children play outside in the snow. Parks have both playgrounds and sledding mounds for their entertainment. School yards have ice rinks. Runners trot along trails with spiked shoes. Dogs wear special boots for extended play in the dog park. Life simply just thrives. In fact in a lot of ways it seems like Saskatoon comes alive in the winter and it's just beautiful to behold. 

No comments: