Too Cold to Peck

As a Canadian, it is pretty well my duty to talk and write about the weather. We experience such extremes of temperature here in Ottawa, that it is easy to do so. A few mornings ago, this was me (take my word for it, it’s me) at the bus stop.

Waiting for the 114 bus. It was 15 minutes late!

Waiting for the 114 bus. It was 15 minutes late!

It was about 100 degrees below zero and it doesn’t matter if you measure in celsius or farenheit, it was cold. But you can’t stay indoors forever. I was just going to the bank (inside a mall) and if anything could convince me to take up electronic banking, this weather would do it.

Last week we went for a walk on the Greenboro Trail and it was beautiful. Because of the Emerald Ash Borer, an insect that has decimated 25% of Ottawa’s trees, there were more woodpeckers in the trees than I had ever seen. They had obviously come to eat the insects and were making a racket pecking at the trees.

The Greenboro Trail

The Greenboro Trail

But a couple of days ago, the woods were silent, except for the crackle of the snow as we crunched along. There were no woodpeckers in sight.

It was too cold to peck!

Thanks for reading and have a WARM day! – Maureen

Winter in Ottawa – on the Greenboro Trail

When we moved here to Ottawa, on December 15, 2011, the grass was still green, the temperature was well above freezing, and a soft rain was falling. That year we didn’t see snow until a few days before Christmas and the whole winter season was milder than usual.

The coldest day of the year was the day my sister from Bermuda came to visit. The temperature that day was -25C. It must have been a shock for her! I had to lend her my long “yard-duty” coat that I had used when I was a teacher.

Last year, it didn’t snow until a few days before Christmas but Winter bit us in the derriere in March and April when we had several snow storms and the temperatures were frigid! It was very difficult and perfect strangers were talking to each other about how horrible the winter had been.

Not as bad as 2008, which set a record for the most snow EVER in one year in Ottawa.

This year, it has hit us early, and hit us hard, and while it has put us in the festive spirit and we do admit that it is beautiful, I fear we are in for another record-breaking year.

Today, December 11, 2013, it is -8C (17F). But when you factor in the wind speed, it feels like -16C (3F). Tonight it is going down to -19C (-2F) but the wind chill factor (which is a Canadian invention guaranteed to make us feel terrible (we are so cold) and wonderful (we are so tough) at the same time) will make it feel like -25C (-13F).

We went Christmas shopping today but were mostly inside so this afternoon we went for a walk on the Greenboro Trail. We took a few photos to prove how hardy we are.

And I admit – it was beautiful.

What do you think of my new WARM winter jacket?

What do you think of my new WARM winter jacket?

At 3 p.m. it was getting quite dark.

At 3 p.m. it was getting quite dark.

Two of my grandchildren built their first snowman of the season.

Two of my grandchildren built their first snowman of the season.

Over a week until the winter solstice and the sun is setting at 4:19.

Over a week until the winter solstice and the sun is setting at 4:19.

I fully expect my Bermuda sister to comment on this post telling us how “cold” it is there, but do not believe her. We have had this discussion before and I know winter in Ottawa blows her puny Bermuda winter right out of the water!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!  Stay warm.

Only in Canada, eh!

We are having a beautiful autumn here in Ottawa, the nation’s capital. The weather for the past week and been warm and sunny and the changing colours are gorgeous. I have tried to get out for a walk or a bike ride every day. On today’s bike ride I told my husband that we have to memorize today and bring it back to mind when we have had twenty days in a row of below-freezing temperatures with high winds and blowing snow.

The Greenboro Trail today.

The Greenboro Trail today.

 

Did you know that one of my daughters works about a five-minute walk from my house? Today I walked over to meet her and we drove to a small mall nearby. The first store we went to was Mark’s. Now Mark’s used to be called Mark’s Work Warehouse. It was known for selling work clothes for men. Not suits and ties and silk shirts kind of workers. The kind of men who repair roads and climb hydro poles during Canada’s worst weather. The kind of men who dig and hammer and sweat and connect things and build bridges, and…

 

Well, Mark’s still sells work clothes but they also sell women’s clothes and I have to say their new fall line is gorgeous. We browsed and oohed and aahed. And then I spotted something I had never seen in any store anywhere in the world before. It took me by surprise and I had to take a photo of it.

 

Before I go on, you have to remember that today Ottawa is the warmest city in Canada at 26C (79F). It’s October. But Mark’s is ready for winter.

 

The Testing Room

The Testing Room

 

In the middle of the store was this full-sized Freezing Room, where you could step in to test the effectiveness of Mark’s winter clothing.

 

Only in Canada!!! Eh?

 

Thanks for reading. Have a great day!

 

Spring Has Sprung

The winter of 2012-2013 was frightful.  It didn’t really get going until December, but it built up a head of steam in March and April that would make you shiver.  And not just from the snow, ice, and winds.

Here in Canada, our meteorologists report  a phenomenon called “The Wind-Chill Factor” which tells us that even though it is -30 degrees outside and we think we are safe to leave the house clad in our long johns, two pairs of pants, three sweaters, a down-filled jacket, hat, scarf, mitts and boots, we’d better go back in and put on our super-cold-weather gear because with the wind factored in it actually feels like -80 degrees and several people have frozen to their front doorknobs and are waiting their turn to be rescued by the Paramedics who are also frozen but to the doors of their ambulances!

Okay, a slight exaggeration, but you get the point!  I always told my daughters (who in turn have told their husbands and kids) that by the end of March every Canadian resident (except the poor souls who live in the Northwest Territories) can expect 90% of the snow to be gone.  Not this year!   I was getting irate calls from my grandchildren and demands to know what was happening.

At the end of April, there was a whisper of green on the tips of the trees along the Greenboro Trail.  The grass on our front lawn has turned emerald-green in a matter of days.  Our garden plants are poking their heads out to see if it is safe to emerge.

Heavenly blossoms.

Heavenly blossoms.

By May 1, the snow was gone, and crocuses, daffodils, and tulips were dancing in the bright sunshine.  The whole neighbourhood is alive.  Men and women are smiling at each other and kids are playing at the park.  There have been several baseball games being played and one young man actually asked me if the local pool was open!

My grandson, Owen, playing street hockey.

My grandson, Owen, playing street hockey.

The scent of blossoms is fragrant in the air and the lilacs are just showing a tinge of purple and white.  The temperature is hovering around 26 degrees celsius (around 80 F).  John and I have been on our bikes and I am happy to say Tim Horton’s restaurant is showing a profit again since I’ve made it a regular stop on my adventures.

Forsythia on Echo Drive.

Forsythia on Echo Drive.

I have tried to describe the Miracle of Spring, but I can’t do justice to the feeling of joy in my heart at the beauty and wonder of God’s creation.

Daffodils.

Daffodils.

Thanks for reading and have a  beautiful, wondrous spring day. – Maureen

Acrylic Painting Class Winter Session

We started our Acrylic Painting class a couple of weeks ago and we learned a lot, as usual.  One of the things I learned was that it is more difficult to paint trees than you would think. Another is that snow is not just white.  Painting makes one more observant and you really look at things differently.  You see shapes and shadows and composition everywhere you look.  Painting has opened my eyes and I love it.

The photo I chose to paint was this one.  It is just a few steps from my front door and a treasured part of my new life in Ottawa.

The Greenboro Trail at Elizabeth Manley Park

The Greenboro Trail at Elizabeth Manley Park

I was sick with the flu last week but managed this week to finish the painting. Actually, I think there may be a couple of finishing touches still, to fix it up, but basically I’ve completed it.

Elizabeth Manley Park.  January, 2013

Elizabeth Manley Park. January, 2013

 

Our next project is a repeat of one from our last class – green trees with reflections in water.  Looking for a nice photo to paint with a point of interest like a house, cabin, lighthouse, barn, etc.

Have a nice day and thanks for reading. – Maureen

Snow Shadows – Greenboro Trail

The art class that my sister and I are taking is helping me see the world in a new way.  When you are doing a painting you tend to see things that are easily missed in the hurry and scurry of the “real” world.

The first painting we did was of green trees.  The second one was reflections in water.  The third was clouds.  The fourth and final one was rocks.

Next week we will start the new course which we are sure will be a continuation of the first eight lessons.  I think we will be doing a snow scene in the first class.  Our teacher, Blair, brought in a few of his own snow scenes and they were beautiful.  What we noticed were the beautiful and colourful shadows made on the snow by trees and buildings.

When my husband and I were out walking on the Greenboro Trail last week I noticed the shadows on the snow.  My fingers almost froze as I started photographing every scene.  I think I’ll pick one of these paintings to try at the first class.  What do you think?  Which one should I pick?

Snow shadows on the Trail.

Snow shadows on the Trail.

 

The Greenboro Trail - January, 2013.

The Greenboro Trail – January, 2013.

 

Another view of the Greenboro Trail.

Another view of the Greenboro Trail.

 

I am looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks for reading. – Maureen