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The Coldest Day in a Decade

Sunny and deadly! The view outside my office in Humanities

It was -33C this morning when I went to work, the coldest day in Edmonton in a decade. Just three blocks to the bus, but that was enough. I had double socks, double mitts, two sweaters, plus leggings under pants. And then a snood for my neck, a hood (pulled tight) over my head, and a scarf wrapped around the whole mess. I could still feel the frigid air slice through every layer like a hot knife through butter, but it was OK for the short walk.

I hate this. The weather has been below -25C since Thursday last week (it’s now Tuesday). The previous weekend, it was 7C above! And we’ve had about 20 cm of snow.

Snow. Every. Dammed. Day.

It used to be that if the temperature was this cold, it would be under blue, snowless skies, but today is the first day we’ve seen the sun. It’s been truly miserable. I haven’t seen Tom for days. Usually we get together on Friday and the weekend, but neither one of us budged from our respective homes.

Outside my office in Humanities around 8:30 am

And, my furnace broke on Saturday. I decided to take public transit to my hair appointment that morning because I didn’t want to drive on the snow-covered streets, and when I got home there was a power failure just as I was walking through the door. The power was out for two hours in Oliver and surrounding area, and it got really cold in my place. When the power was restored, the furnace fan came back on but not the furnace. It took until Monday morning to identify and resolve it, and I’m not even sure if it is resolved. They did replace a broken part (the heat pump with the little propeller thingy which in the old pump had totally disappeared), but it’s so cold outside, and my windows are so big and plentiful and single-paned, it’s just not possible to keep the temperature up. That’s my theory anyway. This is the first February in my Oliver home, and the first real cold snap, so it’s all new.

So other than work, I’ve done nothing, and seen no one. It’s very isolating. I miss Tom. I miss not being afraid of my furnace. I miss driving. I miss being truly warm in my apartment. At least I have a roof over my head and multiple duvets.

The good news is that I am going to Scottsdale on Friday. I can’t believe how lucky I am. Sharon will be down there with Stella for the month, Joanne is there right now with Steve, my cousins Cathy and Larry will be there for a few days, and when Joanne and I leave, Vic will join his wife and dog for another week. That condo of theirs has been a real gift. This is the first time I’ve gone for a whole week. Last time I went, in February 2017, we packed a lot in in four days. One thing is for sure, it won’t be -33C! And I will be walking. A LOT.

Outside the corner office in Humanities, around 8 am.

Sunday in the Park with Stella (again)

It seems my only substantial walks these days are with Stella. I didn’t used to need a dog to go for a walk – but a walk is a walk and Stella is always good company.

Stella’s mom (my sister Sharon) and I wandered around Terwillegar with about a thousand other dogs. I’ve never seen so many dogs – tall dogs, short dogs, brown, black and blond dogs, racing dogs, ambling dogs, ball-dogs like Stella. Everybody getting along, everybody happy to be outdoors on a beautiful day.

In my estimation, we are having another crap winter, by which I mean a roller coaster of freeze and melt, and a lot of grey, overcast days which always leave me feeling blue and lazy. My memory could be faulty, but we’ve had more “warm” winter days in the last two or three years – where the melting snow leaves giant swaths of ice once the temperature falls (which is always does) – than we ever used to have. Maybe a bit of a melt in late January or February, but really only one or two episodes. Now, rain is a regular feature of our winters. On the surface, this would appear to be a good thing, but also on the surface is ice. Lots and lots of ice.

Sharon retrieving the ball that Stella lost down the hill.

My dream winter would be short and mild, and by mild I mean around -5C to -10C. Not too warm, not too cold, with just enough snow and lots of blue skies. Not what we get these days, which is black ice, grey skies, and annoyingly timed snow (like when I’m driving).

I also think that because I walk a lot less than what I used to, I’m not out finding ways to enjoy it. In 25 years of walking in the ravines and river valley of this city, I’m not sure I ever had one walk I regretted. I always found something beautiful, even on days when all colour seems sapped from the landscape. That’s what’s missing. I’m not out actively hunting for beauty.

Well, today was beautiful. Yes it was.

About 0C. 

Christmas Eve Day

Stella makes her case for a walk

I write this more than a week past my last ‘good’ walk and on my last day of work for the year. It’s Christmas Eve, and while I am here until noon, there is not much going on, so…

And also, this may prove to be my one and only post from December 2018, but I hope not. Surely there will be some walking opportunities over my week off? You see, that’s the difference between Donna pre and post 2011, when I moved over to the south side. Before, I would create the walking opportunities. It was very rare that I didn’t walk five or six times a week, even if it was just the short 25 minute commute home to Mill Creek. Now, I seem to wait for the perfect weather, or I don’t think about it at all. Sigh…

Stella and I in Whitemud Ravine

Funny how habits, ingrained habits, can vanish if the circumstances change. I moved out of my very walkable neighbourhood in 2011 to move in with Sharon’s family for a year, and I stayed for six. And now, back on my own for eight months, I’m still struggling to regain my old habit of making a daily walk my top priority.

In any case, last Friday, December 14, my office gifted us with a day off, a ‘shopping day’, and so while I did hit a mall at some point, I still managed to drive over to my sister’s place to take her dog, Stella, for a walk in a deserted Whitemud Ravine. It was almost creepy how deserted it was, and gloomy. It was book-ended by two beautiful blue sky days, but Friday was overcast and it felt very dark in the woods. Glad I had Stella with me for this reason, and a million more.

We had a good time. I wore my micro-spikes and they were extremely helpful. The trails are quite icy from the warm weather and occasional rain mixed with snow, which seems to be the norm these days. Stella, as usual, wore her naturally spiky nails.

A walk is a walk, though, and we had a good time.

I don’t remember what the temperature was, but not too cold. Probably around -2C.

Mill Creek in Peak

I am writing this post retroactively (and re-dated) because I forgot to post, and then I saw the photos when I was scrolling on my phone as one is want to do. Last Tuesday was nice, around 17C, so my intention was to walk home via the new Indigenous Park where the Queen Elizabeth Pool used to be, but I took the wrong path and ended up in my final destination first – Mill Creek Ravine. I’ll try again this week.

Mill Creek was of course beautiful, sporting its yellowy cardigan and still greenish trousers. I walked a loop around the lower path first, and then strolled along the upper path to 99 Street. Ingeniously, I had a dental appointment earlier in the day so rather than park at the university for 16 bucks, I parked on my old street, and so at the end of my walk I had a car to drive the rest of the way home. It was the tail end of rush hour so it took me a long time. A bus, or on foot, would have been quicker.

On the lower path in the area closest to the last bridge, slightly south of the entrance, the path has been overrun with mud and is apparently now permanently blocked off. As I often do, I ignored the signs and walked through it anyway. My running shoes got covered with mud and about half way through I was questioning my life choices, but it was still worth it. At the end, where the cement outfall structure is, the creek was stoppered with sticks, branches and a brown tangle of unidentifiable ravine detritus. No wonder that area keeps flooding. Not sure what’s happening. Further south along the trail, one of the paths has been cut off for years due to erosion (I still cross that one too). This whole area is poorly maintained, or at least to my eyes it is, so it’s doubtful that this not-caused-by-beavers dam will be un-dammed anytime soon.

Outfall looking north

standing on top of the outfall, looking south

Note: for some reason the photos were all kind of foggy, although it was not humid. I chalk it up to the fact that the pants I was wearing have really short pockets, so I had to carry my phone in my hand – hence the fogging. Or my phone is possessed. Or I’m a shitty photographer.

One other note. This month has been the coldest September on record, Tuesday’s temperature of 17C not withstanding. I hope (beg, plead) that October is mild. Bah.

And then this happened…

I made a Chelsea and Andy in honour of their wedding

This is going to be a photo post, because it’s so nice and pretty today (Sunday) but Friday and Saturday were pure rubbish. Once again, it snowed. It snowed hard. Snowed so hard I had to shovel my car out.

I am dog-sitting Stella for four days because most of my family is in California for my step-niece Chelsea’s wedding. Even though I went for two walks a day with the doggo in the heavy wet snow, which did not make me happy, I will admit to a small frolic in the snow on Saturday. It wasn’t until all the snow melted (6cm plus) on Sunday morning that we went for a proper walk in Whitemud Ravine. Landscape-wise, it was like the snow hadn’t happened at all. Mentally…I’m still scarred.

Snow or no snow, ball is still ball

Whitemud Creek Ravine, the next day

First full day of Autumn in Whitemud Ravine

It was about 6C. 

 

A Summerfall Walk

Yes, it’s still technically summer, but in Edmonton in the middle of September, especially this September, it’s just a word that elicits fond memories of a season that has already passed.

But yes, Wednesday, after a week (or is it longer?) of inclement weather, it was finally nice enough to really enjoy the changing colours of the river valley. And it was beautiful, especially against a blue sky. How I have missed you!

I walked from the university, over and then under Groat Bridge, and then west through MacKinnon Ravine and finally Glenora, followed by Oliver. About an hour of gorgeous vistas and autumnal scents.

And a random wasp nest.

5:00-6:15 pm, 15C