About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

What's the Opposite of a Snowbird?

I had an interesting discussion tonight about, of all things, Snowbirds. The self-styled group of Canadians who believe they're too good to endure winter in the Great White North, were in the news today when a Toronto couple were found dead under mysterious circumstances in their Hallandale Beach, FL home away from home.
The neighbourhood in Hallendale Beach in which David Pichosky and his wife Rochelle Wise widdled away the winter months is actually one enjoyed by many Snowbirds, it's a gated community that caters to many of them, and when the couple failed to turn up for lunch with friends on Thursday, police were sent to their home, where they were found dead by a neighbour Thursday evening. And while that is tragic, and it goes without saying that sympathies go out to the family, there is a philosophical questioned posed.
The phenomenon of "Snowbirds" is relatively new, something that seemed to have come about in the last 30-40 years. Now there were a few kids who I grew up with that went to Florida and the like on spring break, or over the Christmas holidays, but when my mom grew up there was only one weird kid on her block whose family went south. After all, who goes somewhere hot and sunny for winter? We aren't Australians!
But that number has gone up from one over the years, and now travel agents make a very nice chunk of change selling the idea that winter is something to be avoided rather than enjoyed, or even just endured. It's a perception that's helped along by the media and the perpetuation of invented disorders like S.A.D., Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don't know how many times this week I've watched the news and heard anchors talk about how great it was that this unseasonable warm spell was developing, thus ending two and half very long weeks of winter.
According to Environment Canada, the average high for Guelph in January is -3.7 degrees, and the average amount of snowfall is 45.8 centimetres, and although the record high for January in Guelph was 13.9 degrees on January 14, 1995, it's still supposed to be an aberration rather than the norm. And what's galling about the fawning over unnaturally, unseasonable warm weather is that it's becoming more common. The Boxing Day blizzard was, in fact, the biggest snowfall to strike our area since March 2011, which kind of makes the petty bitching by that travel website gnome seem all the more trivial.
But I'd like to re-configure the debate. I know out there exists a silent and stifled group of people who hate the summer just as much as Snowbirds hate the winter, but they don't run for cooler climates when the calendar turns to June. But maybe they should. Maybe the people that swelter in the heat of summer should get together and create their own group of pandered to seasonal deniers. And further, we can keep it here in Canada.
Let us look to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. Where the average daily temperature in July is 21.5 degrees, and the average temperature in June and August is even lower at 18.2. Plus, being closer to the North Pole, you get more sun in the day than you do in southern Ontario, so one who's susceptible to the sunless effects of SAD could buttress themselves by getting even more sunshine in the summer months. We could turn towns in the territories like Fort Simpson, Sachs Harbour, Dawson and Watson Lake into new tourist destinations, thus boosting the local economies through real estate, dinning, attractions, and all the usual tourist trappings.
Is he joking? Sort of. The thing of it is that it seems as if people more and more talk about winter as some kind of revenge on the Earth's part for our enjoyment during warmer weather months. But the Earth doesn't do payback. Winter is part of our planet's natural life cycle, and by winter I mean snow and ice and cold, not sitting on a patio drinking a beer in a t-shirt. There's something seriously wrong with our climate, and the more we try to trivialize that, or try to evade it, or simply try to out think it or avoid it, we do the issue any justice.
So in conclusion, let's embrace winter more, and leave Snowbird a solitary reference to a Canadian content classic...

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