Prairie folk love a weather story. We mark certain years, even decades, by memorable weather events, and use storms or extreme temperatures or even winds as a yardstick for recalling other important happenings like weddings or births.
It’s easy to understand our prairie preoccupation with the weather given that it is responsible for making our lives inconvenient, drastically changing our plans, and even putting us or our animals in downright dangerous conditions. Yet weather is one of the few things that is completely out of our hands. Perhaps the fact that we can’t do anything about current weather conditions irks us more than the weather itself.
We can collectively complain or post dozens of photos of our thermometers on social media, but these efforts won’t increase the temperature. More helpfully, people can share their water-bowl-thawing devices (and there are some good ones out there!) but even that isn’t enough to warm the atmosphere. We cannot stop power outages and in spite of our best efforts, we can’t always minimize equipment malfunctions because unfortunately, machines don’t run at their optimum potential when it’s ridiculously cold. In case anyone needs a reminder, patience levels and relationships also don’t function at their peak when a cold front moves in.
While we can’t will the weather to suit our needs, there are a few things that we can manage. For example, we can control our ability to find our block heater cord before we need it. I’ve had two years to source that cord on our family vehicle, yet I found myself fishing around under the hood on the coldest day of the year at the darkest time of night in order to locate it.
As per the old saying that there is no such as thing as poor weather, just poor clothing choices, another thing we can control in many cases is how warmly we outfit ourselves. In our household, the rule is function over fashion and as the temperature decreases, our layers and use of woollen accessories increases. My warm winter chore boots are a wardrobe staple from October through April. My choice of footwear not only keeps my feet warm and dry, but it has been scientifically proven to reduce my cold-feet-complaining by 73% which 100% of my family appreciates.
Controlling our expectations can be a little trickier. On one hand, if we are looking at that long range forecast and already mentally celebrating when temperatures appear to warm up in about ten days time, it’s hard not to be disappointed when – as we get closer – the temperatures not only remain chilly, they actually dip colder. On the other hand, during winter on the prairies, we can’t be generally shocked when we get long stretches of sub-zero temperatures.
One final thing we can control is our weather chit chat and that’s where things can get really complicated. If you say “cold enough for ya?” to someone who has cold-started that engine or searched for that heat gun or hooked up that generator or thawed that water line one too many times, you might find the conversation will heat up before you know it.