Sunday, December 8, 2013

It's a Bit Brisk, Eh?

Our Canadian Deep Freeze is working well. We are a full 15 degrees (or so) warmer than we were this time yesterday morning but it still feels like -32 with the wind chill factored in. I think all of us can relate to this ...

Weeks like these make me grateful for small things ...
  • Insulation
  • Indoor plumbing
  • The ability to warm up the house by turning up the thermostat
  • A furnace that co-operates with the command sent via that tiny gadget (thermostat) in the hallway
  • Block heaters
  • A car that starts
  • A car heater that works
  • A system of roads that take us where we need to go
  • An infrastructure system that takes care of those roads for us
All of this makes me think of the stories that my mom and her sisters told of the winters in their childhood in the early 1930's in their 'little house on the Saskatchewan prairie'...

Winter!!! What can I say about those months of freezing cold, snow and blizzards. Of which, we experienced all.

If it wasn't for us four kids in bed together we would have froze. It was cold everywhere – in fact the barn was far warmer than the house, from the heat of the animals. There was really very little heat until summer arrived.

The winters were very severe, with no roads – only those made by the teams of horses driven in winter to schools, town and anywhere you went.

Homes and schools were heated by wood and coal, with no such thing as insulation heard of yet. It made for very uncomfortable living at times, not to mention our cold trips to school (by sleigh, with heated stones to keep our feet from freezing).

The one incident that I will never forget – our dad was bringing us home from school in a blizzard. Our team of horses got bogged down in deep snow and couldn’t go any further. Fortunately, we were right near a neighbor’s driveway. We walked there, us three kids and our dad. Our horses were put in their barn and us kids were taken straight to the house, where we were made very welcome. We had to sleep upstairs, all three of us in one bed, in a dark, strange room. How scary! I can’t remember, but there were probably more tears, but it was a very happy ending to a very worried day. My dad and a friend of theirs took a fresh team of horses and a bob sleigh and both went on home and got there safely. You can imagine what an enormous relief that was to our mother. There were other incidents like this, involving other families in the district. It was a time where there wasn’t the convenience of a phone in the home, to put a person’s mind at rest. The only thing a person could do was wait it out and hope for the best.

The winters were really hard. Very cold and the housing was poor. When it was 35 to 40° (Fahrenheit) below zero, with any wind it was just about impossible to keep the house warm. We all sat as close to the stove as we could. In the morning, we would jump out of bed, run downstairs into the kitchen and stand on the oven door. All four girls, but alas, one day the oven door broke. ‘Poor Mom.’ I don’t remember how long it was before it was fixed. Yes, we ‘all’ did stand on the oven door at the same time. We were all very small, skinny kids at that time.

Winter of 1947 or 48 ... snow banks as tall as 8 feet by the shed
Bundle up and enjoy the conveniences of our time. It is never so bad that it couldn't be worse.

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