I scraped the ice hoar off the window at 7:30 in the morning to squint at the thermometer and my eyes slowly widened with disbelief. The shock I received worked faster than the coffee I usually brew as I looked a little harder, trying to see the mercury. It had disappeared! Apparently it was near negative-45 Celsius without the wind and minus sixty in the five mile an hour breeze. Somehow, I thought that the coffee just wouldn’t do the trick of warming me up, so I grilled an extra pound of bacon and searched for the wool socks I normally reserve for days like this. Just what happened to that full face of hair I called a beard? Why did I have to shave in January? Isn’t nature and evolution supposed to compensate for the lack of insulating fur in humans, or does that just apply to bears and other animals? As I remember from training camp, this kind of weather is dangerous for all appendages when exposed to the elements, as they can snap off when handled carelessly.
I digress, my prediction that global warming was near is completely wrong and the ice age is coming back. Oh, to be a snowbird, basking on a beach in Florida, wearing just the trademark speedos, gazing over the Mission Impossible sunglasses and sipping the margaritas like they were going out of style, thankful that the only ice I see and feel is shaved, slowly melting and nestled in my drink.
But hey, who am I to fool? Snowbirds are those who just can’t bear the winters of the north, usually in Quebec, where legend dictates that if you aren’t wearing a fur cap, you’re holding a hockey stick and ranting and raving at the referee, whether on the ice or in the crowd. I seem to recall that one season, the ranting and raving spilled out onto the streets of Montreal after a bad night with the Habs, but it was probably just the full moon, which makes many a snowbird turn into a regretful and rueful fan of the blood sport of hockey. That’s why flocks of snowbirds are secretly Panther fans, gloating over the misfortunes of their frozen cousins in the north.
Unlike the arctic tern, snowbirds rarely venture south of the equator and have a knack of owning either condominiums or flock together in trailer parks. Even hurricanes don’t bother them, because they just migrate back north, where only the ravages of the occasional mosquito (those that survived the exterminators, the ones who really started all those viruses just to increase business and get rid of all those pesticides stockpiled since the greening of America exposed them for what they are) punctuate the swishing and swatting of the tennis racket. Further north, where I live, the occasional brave snowbird arrives just to compare the shade of their tan with the weather beaten tones of the Cree, where they marvel at the long hours of the summer day and bask briefly in the near zero temperatures. I said briefly, as the name of summer is only known for a day or two, before it slips back into the semblance of spring or fall.
After I put on the third layer of clothing before putting on the parka, I venture outside to start the rigidly frozen ski-doo. Half an hour later, after contributing much of my breath to the ozone layer and creating fogs of frozen carbon dioxide to complement the exhaust of my sputtering machine, I venture off to work, to see if there are other hardy souls in the world. Again to my amazement, people still make it to work, although the ones who drive trucks and vehicles are still uselessly turning the ignition key, as their engines slowly churn only to die in frozen silence. I pity them, as they are not well dressed for this season, and have to endure the bitter cold of northern Quebec. In a way, I do have a tinge of jealousy for those snowbirds, but hey, we have ptarmigans!