Left Behind

Cars litter the ditch as the snow falls.  It is barely the end of November but there is already half a metre of snow on the ground and more tumbling from the low grey clouds.  Albertans, including moi have begun our annual diatribe about the land we live in being unfit for humans.  If you are anywhere near Edmonton these days you will be drawn into a conversation about weather, winter, cold, and snow at least once a day whether you initiate it or not.  Total strangers strike up conversation in lineups at Tim Hortons, women chat in public washrooms as they wash their hands in cold water because that's all that comes out of the automatic taps, and coworkers arrive at work looking and feeling like they have already had their biggest challenge of the day - which was a marathon commute on the icy roads.

As if living and having to move through our daily routines in this craziness is not enough, there are those of us who are left behind.  The left behind have friends, family, or acquaintances, lucky to be somewhere warm and snow free who are kind enough to tell us about that experience through all the means at their disposal.  Depending on the time of day and the weather forecast I vacillate between enjoying seeing photos of tropical flowers and wanting to stomp on my ipad because I just can't stand the fact that I have been officially left behind to survive yet another Alberta winter.  

There is a dynamic tension I deal with every winter.  It involves loving the snow while at the same time hating the snow, being proud in a weird way that we survive the extreme weather but fearful that we might not, wanting to hunker down at home for a few months yet knowing that I would go cabin-crazy within several days, wanting to flee to somewhere warm but not being willing to leave those I love for months at a time.  There is constant tension and some warped pride in the ability to stay on the road, not get stuck in the drifts, stay warm and most importantly outlast the season.

The question that Albertans face each winter is how to outlast the weather while maintaining some semblance of good humor.  I'd love to hear how you banish the winter blues that seem to descend like the grey clouds that release mounds of snow day after day.  If you are one of my readers in a warm sunny place, you to are welcome to wade into the stream of advice too.  Looking forward to your tidbits and ideas....more snow is falling and I am missing sunlight.


  1. Dear Joy:
    While I don't miss the long, bitterly cold, snowy Alberta winters, after living in milder Virginia for many years, I've realized that severe and difficult weather make one feel more alive! I miss coming home after driving on treacherous roads in a snowstorm to a warm house, hot drink, and family. There is a story to tell of your hazardous situation! Winters here are still quite cold, but boring! There is nothing to talk about if you can simply drive out of your driveway in the morning instead of first spending an hour shoveling and another hour scraping your car, jump starting it because it's -30 degrees! There's also not much to do outside-- no sledding, skiing, skating, snowball fights. I really miss cross-country skiing-- that really makes you feel alive! When we do occasionally have a big snowfall, you would not believe how excited I get. I am known as the "woman who skied to church" one Sunday winter morning just because I could. My kids have all the snow gear they need for those glimpses of real winter so I can send them off before it melts!
    So, at the very least, enjoy the feeling each winter gives you, of being alive and thankful for it! And, please do some active outdoor winter activities for me!


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