Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Chill Is In The Air

Winter is practically knocking at the door. It has been lurking nearby for a while now - dropping little white hints (or in some areas of Southern Manitoba BIG white hints) of what will be covering the landscape all too soon.

With the exception of the last couple of weeks, we'd actually been having a lovely Autumn. The temps had been mostly seasonal or a bit higher. Not a lot of rain and winds more or less behaved, Many of the leaves tried to stay on the trees till our Canadian Thanksgiving on October 14 - then promptly began to fall en mass.

The weather had been so nice, that I'd only had to pull out my mid season jacket a couple weeks ago. Until then, I'd been layering with a hooded fleece and a lightly lined wind breaker. Granted, there were a couple mornings that I did add a very light pair of stretchy gloves but only because it was a long wait at the bus stop! This past week, I had to pull out my heavy autumn jacket and slightly warmer gloves.

I know that these chillier days will seem downright balmy compared to the temps we will be experiencing in a month or so, but at the moment, it feels darn cold! Adjusting to the cooler temps sure doesn't get any easier as we age!

On the plus side, the nights have been cool and perfect for sleeping with the window open. Okay, I admit I sleep with the window open at least a little bit almost year round - even in the dead of winter unless there is a really brutal north wind. On those nights, I close the window and turn on the ceiling fan so the air keeps moving.

Over the last few years, I've been leaving my down blanket on the bed later into fall and saving the warmer down duvet for the real dips in temp. I'd rather throw a light fleece blanket on top than pull out the duvet sooner than necessary. That way, if I get too warm in the night I can throw one layer off.

This year, I'd also been able to resist turning on the heat in my apartment far later than usual. Even though the cost of heating is included in my rent, I tend to leave it off until I really need it. I'll put on a sweater or better yet, bake something or cook an oven meal! The warmth of the oven heats up my little apartment quite nicely!

Until about 10 days ago, I'd actually been able to leave my windows open 24/7. That may sound like a lot of cool air coming in, but in reality the air flow is somewhat limited as our windows are the crank style that only open a few inches. Not nearly as much "fresh" as I'd prefer!

A week ago Friday night was cool and even with the down blanket and the fleece throw, I wasn't as cozy as I'd like. Sure I could have gotten up and closed the window, but I knew I wouldn't have slept nearly as well.

When I got up on the Saturday morning (October 19), the apartment felt almost nippy. Perfect for my morning workout but the high for the day was only 6C and even with the windows shut, I knew I'd feel the chill after a shower. So, after my workout was done, I switched the heat from off to low and raised the thermostat from its lowest setting up to 65F. I heard the heat click on as I hit about 60F so the place hadn't been too bad.

I haven't actually kept a written record of how late I've turned on the heat over the years, but I suspect this is the latest I've ever waited! If memory serves, I think I usually give in around the first week of October!

I also relented to the down duvet last weekend, though I suspect I may have switched to the duvet a bit prematurely. I've thrown off the duvet and grabbed a fleece throw to cover me a coupe nights since! I'll leave the duvet on but I may have to turn the ceiling fan on some nights even with the window open!

The summer clothes have been moved to the back of the closet and the warmer winter clothes are now at the front. I haven't pulled out the winter coat and boots but have a sinking feeling those may be needed sooner rather than later.

My annual "squirreling" of various supplies to fill my pantry, freezer and household needs over the coming wintery months is more or less complete. I've defrosted the deep freezer and reorganized its contents. The Christmas baking is already in progress.

So, the cycle of preparing for changing seasonscontinues. Some of us are being dragged reluctantly towards it and its limitations to our lives while others are anxiously dreaming of what is to come.

A close friend continues to try and lure me to the wintery side of life but their zest for winter is bordering on the White Witch love of the snowy season. Admittedly, a promise of making a snow person (a la "Calvin and Hobbs" style), mirth and hot cocoa does sound tempting. I may take them up on that offer depending on the weather conditions of the day. I certainly won't be hibernating all winter - though a part of me would love to! I will still be running errands, doing some grocery shopping and hopefully some walking for pleasure if the sidewalks aren't too icy and I don't have to traverse snow-banks at intersections and bus stops.

We all know that winter "officially" begins on December 21, but those of us here in Manitoba know all too well that winter tends to arrive much sooner! As it is now, we are currently in what I like to call "Post Leaf - Pre-Snowbank Season". Snow will be arriving before we know it. When the snow stays on the ground for more than a few days, you might as well accept that it will be there till spring!

CBC Manitoba weather forecaster John Sauder has generously passed this information along to me. The data was gathered by Environment Canada. As you can see from #4 in the info below, the first autumn snowfall of 2 cm (almost 1 inch) or more which stays on ground for 7 days or more is roughly defined as the start of the snow-cover season.
Oh joy! Given how long and never-ending this past winter was, let's hope that Mother Nature will go gently on us this year. If we are really lucky, this will be one of those later years for our first real snow-covers! Yeah, yeah, I know - but I can dream!    


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