It’s cold, but at least you’re not playing outdoor hockey

It’s cold enough to freeze the nuts off a steel bridge! And the bolts, too!

Also, a brass monkey, as you may have heard. Sure, it’s a bit “fresh” or “brisk” outside these days, but why are we Canucks so discombobulated every time the old mercury dips a smidgen?

OK, so it’s dipped a heck of a lot more than a smidgen — perhaps a hundred smidgens or so — but it’s not as if it’s a complete surprise or anything. I mean, it is February after all.

For most of us, all we have to do is shuffle from a house to a car, from the car to another place and back to the house again, most of which are acceptably warm.

It’s not as if we have to hike across the frozen tundra in order to capture lunch; our worst-case scenario involves the risk of freezing to death by rolling down the car window at a drive-thru.

Still, we love to complain about the weather — especially a brutally cold, depressing, stupid, face-freezing winter.

It’s -23 C as I scribble (actually, type) and people have been complaining for days.

“Bring back global warming,” they say.

“I’m quite chilly,” they remark.

“My flight to Hawaii leaves on Monday,” they exclaim.

And others just simply let their chattering teeth do the talking.

“I hear you,” I say, but nobody hears back, what with all those thick tuques and bulky parka hoods.

Minus 23? Heck, when we were kids, we used to play city league hockey outdoors in glacial weather like this. The cut-off point for cancelling a game was -20 C.

So there we were, on the subzero cusp of -20 long before the much warmer metric Celsius had been invented, wobbling around on the ice like frozen zombies over at the Central Rink trying to score a goal on Yook Foo Kwong (which was impossible even when it wasn’t -20, on account of the fact his patented technique was to flop onto the ice horizontally across the goal and none of us were good enough to raise the puck).

And then every 10 minutes or so, the whistle would blow and we would all clump and clatter back into the shack to attempt to unthaw before heading back out into the frozen fray once again.

There we were, tough 10-year-old hockey heroes huddled around the gas stove in the middle of the shack, banging our frozen-solid skates with our ice-cube feet still in them on the rough wooden floor, every single one of us bawling our heads off.

Nothing before, or since, was ever quite like the sheer agony of frozen feet thawing out. And yet after 15 minutes of crying and stomping, we’d peel our smelly half-burned woolen mitts and tuques off the stove and head right back out there and try to raise the puck over Yook Foo.

So when you and I complain that it’s so cold, that lawyers have their hands in their own pockets (yuk, yuk), dogs have to be chipped off of fire hydrants (har, har) and the rock rattling around in your snow boots is your toe (ha, ha), just remember at least you don’t have go out and play hockey under the frosty lights in the frozen biosphere of an outdoor rink.

But still, when it gets to the point that we have to kick a hole in the air just to get outside, I recommend three pairs of socks.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer writer and filmmaker.

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