|Somewhere dark and early in Saskatoon (via The Weather Network)|
But I just can't believe how cold it it feels!. This afternoon, for example, it is -20 C (-4 F) but the windchill is -26 C (-14 F). Saskatoon is, in fact, the second coldest city in Canada. (Winnipeg is the winter winner.)
These frosty facts translate into a lot of necessary, adaptive behavours. Let's face it: Winter is work.
Do you want to drive somewhere? If you park your car on the street, you will first have to clear it of snow, unplug it (cars left outdoors in winter are "plugged in" so the engine block is heated), and then warm it up for 10 minutes so that the interior is no longer freezing. If the plough has come by, add "digging out the car" to the list before you even hit the road. Make that the icey road. It is too cold here for road salt, so "sand" must suffice-- pinkish potash tailings which seem minimally effective. Drivers quickly learn that they will be skidding into every intersection for the next five months. That's right: winter sets up camp sometime in November, and doesn't move on until April. The good folk of Saskatoon are in it for the long haul.
Driving or walking, at least everyone knows to "dress for the cold". (You wouldn't want to be caught in your stalled vehicle without proper apparel!) So we all suit up with parkas, boots-that-mean-business, heavy mitts, and hats. Hats are a must, and if you look dorky in a hat, too bad. At least you will have a lot of company. Personally, my outdoor ensemble also requires passably heavy pants. I cannot imagine wearing a skirt and tights in this weather, but I am sure it happens -- perhaps on younger women who seem a bit more impervious to the cold than I am.
And that starts me thinking: why would retirees endure this punishing winter climate? Because surely very few older people are delighted at the prospect of girding themselves against Extreme Weather every time they leave the house. I am convinced that older residents must surely sell up and move to the Okanagan in droves. There must be fewer people over 65 living in Saskatoon than in a comparable city (Kitchener, for example) in southern Ontario.
But I am wrong.
In 2011, Stats Canada shows both cities at about 220, 000, and both have, proportionally, about the same number of residents aged 65 and above. You can check this out for yourself: 2011 Canadian Census
I am beginning to feel very sorry for the snow - bound retirees of Saskatoon and mention this to some locals. But they point out that older Saskatchewanians are typical Canadian snowbirds; if they can afford it, they fly south in the winter and thaw out in California, Arizona, and Florida. Some go to Mexico or Hawaii even if just for a couple of weeks.
But not everone needs to escape, apparently. I was also told of a guy who retired to BC and then moved back to Saskatoon because he missed the winter sun--the sun that rose at 9:04 today, and went down at 4:54.
I guess they just breed tougher retirees in Saskatchwan.