The Great Freeze, 2010

There was a time – when we lived in the real frozen tundra (Minneapolis, that’s you) – that we regularly endured subzero temperatures. We grew accustomed to phrases like ‘windchill….minus 15’ and the, um, snot freezing inside our nasal passages. And spending December through March running from our cars to our house as quickly as possible.

But we haven’t lived in the ‘Cities’ in several years. And our blood has seemingly gotten thinner, what with age and living in the comparative tropics of Calgary. So when we ventured outside yesterday….and it was negative 5.8 Fahrenheit (that’s minus 21, Canadian friends)….well, it was a bit of a dealbreaker.

We’d planned to go for a peaceful hike without children. But we weren’t prepared to be outside for any length of time in face-burning-cold conditions. I wore long underwear, jeans, thick sweater, fleece jacket, regular jacket, gloves, hat, and scarf. And I was still cold.

So, instead of being active, outdoorsy types, we drove to the Wild Flour for grilled, cheesy sandwiches and a latte-as-big-as-your-head. A little girl played peek-a-boo with the professor. ‘We’re on a break from children,’ I mock-chided. I had, after all, purposely selected the table as far away from potentially-crying-children as possible. After filling our bellies with molten fat, we made a valiant effort at taking a little stroll around Banff.

It was too cold.

We hurried back to the car. Perhaps Banff would be most enjoyed if viewed from the confines of a warm, moving vehicle. So we drove around; getting out of the car, periodically, for less-than-fifteen-minute installments. We ventured inside the Banff Springs Hotel, partly to get out of the cold and to gaze at the awesome souvenirs sold at the gift shops: a bear, holding a fish in its mouth, carved from a single block of granite. Fur boots that resembled tiny Shetland ponies. And chandeliers carved from some sort of reddish-rock-stone.

We called it a day before the clock struck five. Like a couple of senior citizens. No dinner out. No dancing.

Instead, we ate leftover quiche. And spent some time in front of that once-familiar black box called the television. We were lucky enough to catch the final fifteen minutes of Dancing with the Stars. The images of somebody named Kyle and his lady-dancer wearing coordinating blue and yellow outfits while doing some sort of booty dance…..will be forever etched on my retinas. That, and the image of Bristol Palin shaking her hair while standing in a ‘jail’. A la Chicago.

Maybe a television-less existence isn’t so bad.

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