Saturday, January 6, 2007

Wacky weather -- warm but wishing for the white stuff

As I look outside my window this morning, it's overcast but unseasonably mild. At this time of year, one should expect temperatures in this part of Canada to be around the minus 5 Celsius range. It's been averaging plus 10. Needless to say, it's been anything but business as usual. Yesterday, I heard that local city crews which normally run the snow plows have instead been doing some winter pruning of trees. The spring-like winter has also, perhaps, accelerated construction of the Red Hill Parkway, which was supposed to open next fall but instead could be open by the summer.

It hasn't been happy news elsewhere, though ... like at Blue Mountain, which yesterday laid off 1300 employees for three weeks because there just isn't any snow on the ground -- or enough, rather, to make ski conditions safe.

To my memory, I can't remember a winter this mild since 1983 ... and the stuff on the ground then was mostly slush and not snow. But to hear it's not just us and that the cherry blossoms are blooming in Manhattan, something that hasn't happened this early since 1888, is in some ways very scary. Consider the ice wine industry in Niagara, to the east of me, is heavily reliant on cold steady temperatures for the crop to be produced. I don't think it's been below minus 10 three day in a row since -- um, March of last year. I'm not the only one noticing this. But it was the cold snap of winters that prepared us for the heat of summers; making us tougher persons. We see places like Los Angeles basking in summer eleven or even twelve months of the year and think, they're not so tough!

The cities of Canada are their best when there is both winter and summer --which makes us very different from the places the "snowbirds" flock to during the winter to escape winter all together. Sure, some places the snow's around for too long it seems, but it's that winter moisture that prepares the rural soil for the spring crops. Too little of it, and there's going to be a big problem.

Maybe I'm a cold romantic in wishing for a Green Christmas every year ... but we could use some snow. Not a blizzard, but enough that's easy enough to shovel but also make sure the farmers are ready for spring and the reservoirs full in case -- as I sense -- there could be a scorching summer and the threat of a water shortage, even with Hamilton sitting right on Lake Ontario. After all, the farmers have to pump in the water from somewhere and it's not just from the wells.

It's not just the same without the white stuff. It's just not Hamilton. If places like the Far North and New Orleans are the proving grounds for global warming, imagine what it's going to be like inland when the weather changes become permanent.

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