Tuesday, February 19, 2013

adaptation

The sun is barely up, and the temperature reads -25 C. This is a layering kind of day, where snowpants won't be enough. Long johns, warm pants, wool socks. T-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, wool sweater, coat. Hat and hood, all wrapped up in a scarf. Mittens tucked deeply under the sleeves of coats, snow pant hems pulled snugly over the tops of boots.

They pull on their backpacks without complaint, and head out into the frigid air to wait for the bus.

This routine astounds me, every single day because they never whine about it. On days when they don't go to school, they do it anyway, to play until their cheeks and toes feel frozen, at which point they pile in the door, confident that there will be hot chocolate and popcorn waiting for them. They hang up their stuff, place mittens over heat grates, and make sure all will be dry for their next foray into Eastern Ontario winter.

The Inuit have adapted to cold, winter living over thousands and thousands of years. 

My husband and I, however, are descended from Irish and English ancestors. My foremothers and fathers came to Canada in the mid-1800s, fleeing famine and religious persecution, and settled into a life of farming the Canadian soil. Robin's dad was born in Canada, but his grandparents came here from Northern Ireland. His mother still speaks with an English accent, after coming to Canada in the mid-1980s. This is all to say that our ancestry, in terms of adaptation to climate, is drawn from milder climes, greener fields, damp and soft weather for the most part.

I get this surge of pride every time I send my kids out into the winter cold, knowing that they are among the sturdiest stock in the world. They adapt to heat above 30 degrees C in the summer, and cold below -25 C in the winter. And they play just as happily in either temperature.

As for me, I prefer to stay inside with wool socks, a warm fire, a bowl of steel cut oats with maple syrup, and my knitting, while waiting for Spring.

9 comments:

  1. Your youngest child gets it honestly then, hm? It IS wonderful that our children still willingly get their dose of fresh air every day. Yesterday, we went to the canal. Getting the gear all ready, and the layers packed, etc was a pain but when we got there, and got on the ice- it was wonderful! (The hot apple cider and beavertails helped!) Rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes and two sleeping girls all the way home.

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  2. Ireland definitely provided a more moderate climate to be sure- my Dad is from an hour west of Belfast. As a child here in rural Ontario I developed hypothermic uticaria when exposed to extremely cold air. I once had my throat close in and passed out as a result which didn't deter me from WANTING to spend hours outside but certainly scared my mother into suggesting inside activities when it got exceptionally cold. As a late teen this mutated into Raynauds which has got progressively worse as I have aged. At 44 this means my toes, ears, fingers and nose turn blue at the slightest breeze. My doctor has scared me into taking it more seriously- don't want any amputations in my future!

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  3. Yes steph,I can see you doing just that.I laughed when I read the last line

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  4. I'm good for a few minutes out in the cold but my native habitat is really inside with hot coffee and yarn ;) I'm laughing a little, too, because we are having a bit of a wintery blustery frigid blast in Rhode Island just now. I got very confused when I looked at my phone yesterday and realized it was showing the temps in celcius ~ for we are still on fahrenheit here! Must have been one of those grand kids of mine changing settings! ;)
    p.s. you are soooo blessed to have little ones get up and going in the morning without grumbling....but you know that! :) ~ Paula

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  5. That wool looks pretty, what are you knitting?

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    1. Hi, Selma,

      I'm busily making some rainbow horses (you can get the pattern at the etsy shop, Mamma4earth) for my daughter and niece, who were born one day apart 4 years ago! The yarn is Fleece Artist's Scotian Silk, which has unfortunately been discontinued! This is the last of the skeins I bought for a sweater for my daughter a few years ago. The colours are perfect, soft rainbow hues.

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  6. I am always thrilled once march rolls in that we survived another winter as though we lived through it without a roof over our heads, natural gas eat and warm vehicles. I loved this post. I am now just starting to feel the tingles of excitement I get every year when temps start to rise and spring is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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  7. That's mighty chilly. I've always layered to go outside and living in Colorado have spent my winters outside. But after the birth of my daughter two years ago I don't tolerate the cold well at all. The month or so after she was born I just couldn't get warm no matter how much tea I drank or how many layers I wore. I wear layers and a coat meanwhile my husband wears a light jacket.

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