Winter Wonderland

I am a Canadian. Talking about the weather is our national pastime. Especially in winter.

In my small corner of Germany though there doesn’t seem to be the same incentive. There is no winter here, though I have trouble convincing Germans of that. Like Canadians, they love to talk about winter weather.

Last winter I was told how cold it was and how much snow we could expect. I think the coldest it ever got was minus five Celsius and the one day it did snow, maybe two centimetres, it had all melted away by day’s end. In Canadian terms, that is spring.

This winter appears to be about as mild as the last one. Looking at the long-range forecast for the next two weeks, I see no temperatures colder than minus five and no accumulation of snow. That isn’t winter, but it seems every German I meet is talking about how cold it is.

So I have taken to checking out the Ottawa weather each day, just to know what I am missing. And when the weather comes up in conversation, I dazzle my German friends with the numbers. They have never experienced such cold.

For example, at noon yesterday in Ottawa the temperature was minus 23. With the wind it felt like minus 34. That’s midday warmth. At one point the wind chill was minus 40. As you may have learned in school, that is where the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales converge. By anyone’s standards, that is cold. Exposed flesh can freeze in a couple of minutes. I don’t think it ever gets like that here.

And that doesn’t take the snow into account. The same day of the minus 40 wind chills, Ottawa was expecting at least 20 centimetres of snow. That is more in one day than Sulzburg will see in two winters. Don’t talk to me about the cold winters here.

In a way I kind of miss the Ottawa winter. Snow can be beautiful to see, unless you are the one who has to shovel it. Extreme cold isn’t that bad if you dress for it – and if you don’t you should stay inside.

There was snowfall here about ten days ago. I saw a snowplow go by our window. My wife didn’t believe me at first. Completely understandable given that total accumulation was less than a centimetre. Later on that evening we did see another plow in a neighbouring village. I have no idea why – there was really no snow to push off the road. And of course it was all gone by morning.

So there you have it. Another Canadian being stereotypical and talking about the weather. What else did you expect on a Tuesday?

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