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January 5, 2015: At 10:00AM, it was -30ºC. For my friends south of the border, that’s -22ºF. For everyone else — it was COLD. Very, very cold.

But, I’ve chosen to live up here in the middle of nowhere. Well, “chosen” isn’t entirely accurate. I was born and raised here, and I guess I’ve become acclimatized to the harsh and extraordinarily long winter season. This year it started bright and early. On the first of November.

As I said on my About Wendy page though, the three months of summer are pure paradise. In Northern Ontario, we can reach up to +30ºC (+35º in an extreme heat wave at the tail end of June, early July), but for the most part, June, July and August average a very comfortable 20ºC. Which suits me just fine. T-shirts are great, but I really do enjoy sporting a stylish jacket and knee-high boots whenever I can.

We have no poisonous snakes or insects. There are no hoodlums running around looting or shooting people. There’s no flooding or tornadoes (though we HAVE had the occasional small-scale tornado in the past, and extremely high winds are a worry out here in the sticks where I’m completely surrounded by trees — but nothing Kansas-worthy, that’s for sure). No tidal waves, no mud slides. No earthquakes (the rare tremor, but San Fran this ain’t!). The only real worry is forest fires, but thankfully they are few and far between. Again, I’m in the East, not on the West Coast.

But winter? Ugh. Winter is a real drag. In late November is when you really start to feel it. The days get unbearably short. Daylight Saving Time is no help either. The moron who thought THAT was a good idea should have been knee-capped, then drawn and quartered. Saskatchewan is the only province with any sense. They have chosen to opt out of this life-sucking backwards-business formality.

And we get a lot of snow. Sure, not Arctic proportions. But we measure snow in feet, not inches. By the end of February, I won’t be able to see out my studio window thanks to all the snow that’s slid off the roof. On January 4th? I shovelled my patio at 10:00 AM. At 4:00 PM, I was back outside doing it all over again. It’s not unheard of to wake up in the morning, put my coat on, grab the wood box and head out the door… only to find I have to push the door open through 6-8 inches of snow. Then shovel my way to the woodpile so I can get the fire going before I freeze to death. Wood heat is nice and very economical, but it’s a real pain to wake up in a cold house and then have to work to warm it up again.

But in the midst of all this harsh Northern exposure are a few treasures. Furry, feathered treasures that I wouldn’t give up for the world.

Wendy and Chickadee, January 18, 2015

Thanks to a jerk-off industrial operation that illegally opened what is the equivalent of a mine across the road from me many years ago, there’s much less wildlife than there used to be. But I have a few mainstays. My darling chickadees who greet me every morning, my sweet squirrel Cutie Pie, and a beautiful cross-fox named Paintbrush. Paintbrush hasn’t been around much this year yet, but he was a near-daily fixture last winter.

Probably my favourite photo in the entire world. Also my desktop image!

He would come up to the house and wait so patiently for his breakfast.

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And I’d often catch him snoozing away in the far too seldom-seen sunshine.

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So yeah, I can complain about the winters up here, but it’s just a fact of life that there’s always a trade off. If you want a warm, green Christmas, hey, you can move to Florida — and face tidal waves and alligators. And if you want winter wildlife and the peace and serenity that comes with a Northern Ontario summer? Well, then you’re going to have to bite the bullet and put up with snow and cold. 9 months of the year, apparently.

Photos are © Copyright Wendy Brydge 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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