Winter is coming - a blog, in 1000 Words or Less
Growing up in the central interior of British Columbia meant snow and cold from October through March. I don’t remember disliking winter back then. I don’t remember enjoying it either, except for those rare days when I scraped enough money together to hit the local ski hill. Mostly, when I think back, I remember how long winter lasted and how quickly the warm weather came and went.
After I graduated high school, I moved to Northern Ontario. As prepared for snow and cold as I thought I was, I had no idea how frigid this region of Canada could be. Without enough money for a snowmobile, all I had to look forward to was months of layered clothing, heavy boots and relentless snow. That’s when I began actively disliking winter, especially the snow part, so…
…naturally, I moved to the arctic. I optimistically told friends and family that, “It isn’t any colder. It’s just colder longer.” As it turned out, that wasn’t true. I hope I never again experience -40 degrees Celsius or, with a wind chill, -70.
After the arctic, and a move to Ottawa, active dislike became out right hatred. As for snow, “loathe” wasn’t a strong enough word. That hasn't changed. I put up with Ottawa's weather for several years but eventually decided to trade snow and cold for the grey days and constant rain of Canada’s west coast.
So far, I’ve found a west coast winter is the easiest kind of winter to deal with, which isn’t to say I look forward to the season. Except for this year.
This year, I can’t wait for winter to arrive. If someone were to ask, I’d say with one-hundred percent sincerity that I wasn’t looking forward to the next several months. Unfortunately, my silent under voice, the voice responsible for caution, honesty and logic, is saying the exact opposite. While I claim out loud, “I don’t want summer to end,” the under voice is whispering, “Yes you do. You want winter to hurry up and arrive."
I spent the last weekend in September doing normal end of summer chores…putting away patio furniture, draining the irrigation system, aerating the lawn, all the things that need to be done, but not in September. Why was I so keen to take care of chores that symbolically end our short Canadian summer, when I’ve never before looked forward to the winter season?
The answer is obvious and unsurprising: 2020. I want 2020 to disappear as quickly as possible; the sooner winter arrives, the closer we are to the end of this nightmare of a year.
Therein lies a problem.
I’ve never believed New Year’s Day symbolizes a fresh new start. For me, January 1st has always been just another day. If I happened to be working when one year ended and the new one began, that was fine. I didn’t care. I wasn’t missing anything. Occasionally, I stayed up past midnight. Sometimes I didn’t bother. For me, a New Year’s Eve party is as interesting as a party on…I don’t know…the ninth of April, for instance. Why then, for the first time in my life, does January 1st represent a new beginning? As far as the planet is concerned, it doesn’t care that overnight, 2020 will become 2021. Nothing changes because of the day on the calendar.
The man-child in Ottawa will keep working hard at ruining our country.
Trump will diligently de-stabilize the globe, no matter what happens in the US election.
China will chip away at democracy.
The Arab world will keep promoting their abhorrent beliefs regarding women’s rights.
As objectionable as these behaviours are, they’ve become a standard. They’ve existed for years (in some case decades), and they aren’t going to change. Rationally, I know this. So, when it comes to Covid 19, why do I somehow feel that as of January 1st, the world will have bottomed out and we’ll be on the right side of the so-called U? Why, on this one issue, do I feel like January 1st will restart the clock on a better year, when I know the virus will be exactly the same as it was on December 31st?
I think the answer is hope and optimism, neither of which is rational.
While the media talks eagerly about a “third wave” and excitedly reports the number of deaths, I hope for a return to the "normal" I had a few short months ago, when my colleagues weren’t being furloughed, when friends and neighbors could socialize, when a person could visit a parent in an elderly care facility, when nervous people were still capable of exercising common sense instead of succumbing to uneducated hysteria.
Despite a federal government that throws around money it doesn’t have by the millions, in favor of finding practical ways out of this shit-storm, I remain optimistic that small businesses will adapt in ways that allow them to keep their doors open. I remain optimistic that large organizations will gather and present data that refutes out dated procedures instituted when knowledge about the virus was non-existent.
I keep hearing the talking heads say things like, “…when we beat this…” and I wonder if beating Covid 19 is possible. It might go away like SARS did. That seems unlikely so apparently, we have to “beat it” even though I don’t know what that means or if it’s possible. In New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern claims the country has "beaten" the virus twice. But is it beaten if it comes back, or has the potential to come back, in the same way the common cold or seasonal flu goes away and comes back every year? The UK recently instituted another four week lockdown. I'd like to know the end game. What does the UK government hope to achieve with this new lockdown? What is the purpose of the lockdown if the virus can't be 100% eradicated? If the virus is in the world to stay, how long can the cycles of lockdown and easing of restrictions repeat themselves? Every quarter? Once a year? Every decade? Forever?
As far as I can tell, we can only contain Covid 19 using procedures like conscientious hand washing, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and wearing face coverings. Once a vaccine and rapid tests are widely available, the world will add two more tools to the tool box that will help us manage the virus.
With continued research, statistics, knowledge and the tools I mentioned, cases will eventually drop, the media’s frenzy will turn in other directions, politicians overreactive panic will ease and the virus will no longer be defined as a pandemic. With luck and hard work, that will happen in 2021. It won’t magically happen at 12:01 AM on the first of January, but it should happen progressively throughout the year, which ultimately means we’ll be moving in the right direction rather than facing one crisis after another, each seemingly worse than the one that came before it, as has been the case in 2020. If that means wishing the drizzle,
and rain, would hurry up and arrive, hustling us without ceremony toward a better 2021, then this one time, for the first time ever, I’m looking forward to winter.
I’m going out now. I have to buy new windshield wipers. Friends in Ottawa are stocking up on Ice Melt Salt. Crappy winter weather is part of being Canadian.