The Delusionists: Calgary Syndrome.

I got up yesterday, and took a handful of steps down the darkened hallway to the bathroom, as I do most mornings. While standing in the unlit room, I gazed at the frosted window and could swear I detected, even with blurry non-corrected vision, a distinct whiteness outside.

‘No,’ I thought to myself. ‘No.’

I ran to the kitchen, hoping it was just a strange backyard reflection; that the night hadn’t deposited a thick blanket of snow covering absolutely everything. That even though it seemed like a significant amount of snow awaited me outside, maybe it was really just one of those persistently-rude, out-of-season powder-coats I’ve become semi-resigned to over the last few years.

It wasn’t. Not unless your definition of powder-coat includes several inches of snow while the sky unleashes steady, unceasing lashings of it.

I marched to our bedroom where the professor was pretending to sleep despite having heard my less than chirpy snow-greetings. ‘It SNOWED,’ I fumed, ‘a LOT.’ ‘I know,’ he attempted to hide his face under the covers, ‘I saw it late last night but I didn’t want to tell you.’

For hell hath no fury like a woman accustomed to seasonal living, trying to carve out a life in a monoseasonal land.

‘I’m not living here anymore!’ I threatened.

‘A harsh word in the mornin’ darkens the day,’ he channeled his best Jacob Snell because the greatest joy of my life right now is talking like a sixtysomething Ozark[s] drug lord while I go about my daily existence.

For really, what other joys are available to me when it can, and does snow at a moment’s notice? After a decade of toil in this dry and wintry land, I’ve come to the conclusion that calling Calgary monoseasonal is the most accurate, and least likely to lead to mental breakdown, description of its weather: ‘Basically, it’s winter all year round and sometimes a few nice days pop up here and there. But not too many, and not that frequently.’

That is, going forward, how I will describe this city’s clime to the uninitiated. Perhaps it’s not a marketing approach that will cause the Hawaii-bound to make a u-turn, but the honesty of it is refreshing and certainly not a deterrent when you consider millions of people already live in ‘challenging’ climates.

It’s a known phenomenon.

The problem, is the people who live here. Perhaps you’ve heard of a little thing called ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ in which hostages form a psychological alliance with their captors… in order to survive. That’s precisely what’s happened here, except instead of a person, the captor is the weather and in order to survive its hostages pretend, insist, that the weather is actually….beautiful.

Calgary Syndrome.

Don’t believe me? I walked through foot-deep snow to the grocery store today because digging my car out from underneath its cloak and dealing with crappy roads was less appealing and equally time consuming. Every person I encountered on my journey made some comment about the weather – because it’s October 3 and we are wading through calf-high snow – and every single person concluded their passing remark on a positive note.

‘Wow, that’s a lot of snow…..but it’s beautiful!’

‘What crazy weather… least it’s sunny!’

‘I sure hope I don’t slip,’ an elderly neighbor commented before adding the now anticipated ‘but at least it’s warm.’

I got home, where the furnace has been running nonstop since the end of August, and, somewhat bewildered by the barrage of automated replies, checked the ‘current outdoor temperature.’ One website insisted it was -4 and another claimed it was -6 (that’s somewhere between 21 and 25 degrees Fahrenheit for my fall-experiencing American friends).

Minus 4 (or 6) is a lot of things, but ‘warm’ is probably not one of them – unless your benchmark is Siberia in the middle of January. (Would you believe Siberia and Calgary have remarkably similar forecasts these past two weeks, considering the climates are so ‘different’?)

I spent the majority of yesterday shoveling snow and scheming with my next door neighbor about the cost-effectiveness of buying a shared snowblower: would it have been rendered useless by the heavy wet snow? Because I would have gladly forked over $900 yesterday not to feel the way I do today.

Lest we forget: people die from shoveling snow. Every. Year.

When I wasn’t hoisting wet snow over my shoulder while mentally replaying the opening scene of Four Weddings and a Funeral, or trying to perform self-chiropractic care, I was calling up universities south of here to see if they have any interest in hiring the eminently qualified professor.

Nothing but automated replies.

So today I’m going to take advantage of the sunny, blue skies and spend some time considering whether it’s better for my mental health to live in a monoseasonal climate with universal healthcare or experience spring, summer and fall in a frightening political climate where healthcare costs a small fortune.

Too bad the daisies are buried in snow.

(Who am I kidding, they’ve been dead for months!)


3 thoughts on “The Delusionists: Calgary Syndrome.

  1. Calgary has two seasons – winter and not winter. You know which one you’re in when you get up in the morning.
    The “Calgary Syndrome” people are all migrants from Prairie places with even worse weather. Ever been to The Paw, Churchill, Winnipeg, Fort MAC or Rainbow Lake?
    Weather is relative. Very Einsteinium.
    Please write more. Right now I’m grateful to our shitstorm weather cause it made you write this.
    Perhaps write about how much free time you have between raising sons and dogs?
    That’s a lot of “sonshine” at least.
    Love to you sweet friend

    1. You’re the best Karen! And I love that insight about people migrating to YYC from places with worse weather, hence their positive outlook.


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