We, as Canadians (iens), view bad weather with the usual yawns of disappointment when near white-out conditions prevail only for a day or two. The average temperature hovers usually around zero on a brisk October morning and creeps up to about five degrees or so by noon hour. I am saying this because the news of the past week has been Hurricane Isabel. Now, Americans do tend to have the occasional strong wind or two and tornados do rip the average trailer park to shreds, costing countless thousands of dollars of damages per individual, but in Canada, bad weather is the norm.
When good weather approaches and lasts more than a day or two, that’s when the highs and lows of the fronts and troughs hit the news. Yes, we Canadians are proud of our lousy weather. It’s sort of like Londoners and their fog. As I switched from one channel to another on television, skipping from news story to news story, I was slightly amused with the unfortunate news/weather reporters. For some odd reason, each major network seemed to be competing and showing off the stamina of their reporters, all clad in wet storm weather clothing, standing at an angle, either into the wind (for the strong ones) or with the wind (for the not so strong ones). One reporter I saw actually was buffeted around (rather bravely I must add) in the high winds of Isabel, but from a technical viewpoint, the sound was excellent and nary a wind gust was broadcast audibly. Now that the weather has tamed somewhat, everyone is back indoors calling the weather from the safety of the desk. Go figure.
In the north, bad weather is a way of life and like I said earlier, nice weather is worth talking and getting all excited about. It’s those days when the tan lines actually reach past your wrist and neck and perspiration is actually a nice added touch.
I happen to be a maven for weather watching and actually know someone who survived a trailer park tornado disaster in Alberta. I tune into the weather network on a regular basis instead of looking out the window. I like to forecast using tried and true methods of aching bones for cold weather, straight hair that curls just before it rains, the number of people complaining about the humidity, the way the mosquitoes tend to bite just before a thunderstorm and just how thirsty I get at happy hour.
Many years ago, in a rescue mission in the high arctic, a combined rescue unit of Americans and Canadians were circling in a Hercules over the last site known to be the whereabouts of a crashed aircraft. The intense blizzard conditions and zero-zero visibility made the American unit, who happened to be equipped with the latest survival technology and gear, decide not to endanger the lives of the rescue unit. Meanwhile, the local team, clad in the usual gear of bright orange, merrily and bravely jumped out the aircraft, to disappear instantly in the raging storm. “Are they crazy?” asked the American to the commander of the search and rescue effort.
“No, he’s Canadian,” replied the unit commander, and then he jumped out of the plane. At that moment, I felt this incredible surge of pride just knowing that I am Canadian. Yes, the beer commercials are for real and so are we.