Regulars(Archives)

Feb
27
2013
Volume
-

Spring Has Sprung

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More advice for new residents

So you’ve nearly survived winter, and sometime between the end of March and the beginning of June the weather may warm up enough for you to dare to go outside unencumbered with fleece, wool, boots, hats, gloves, and scarves. Or it may not. In the hope that it does, here are some of the things you may look forward to enjoying.

The warmer weather is also known as pothole season. These miraculous gaping chasms appear like bunnies popping out of magical hats as soon as the snow and ice disappears. Scientific, logical people will tell you they are caused by fatigue cracks in the road and that the freezing and thawing, as well as the traffic, exacerbates the situation. This is hooey. Potholes are caused by rodent-like creatures called “as.” These “asses” (the plural) burrow under the road and eat the gravel before migrating south in the spring and causing chaos at the racetracks in the American south (where they are known as “horses asses”). Because nobody has ever seen them, but they are blamed anyway, the chaos they cause has become the same name as that which is used to repair the damage. It’s the as-phalt.

Spring also brings all manner of other dangerous animals. Forget about the bears, which only occasionally mutilate and savage foreigners, or the wolverines, which are really nice pets once they’ve been declawed, defanged, and lobotomized. The most dangerous animal in May in Fort McMurray is the mosquito. Now, it doesn’t seem fair that a country that gets as cold as Canada should also suffer from what is often mistakenly believed to be a tropical blight, one that is the just and rightful punishment for all those smarmy people who live in warm parts of the world. I just bet you moved here and thought, “W-e-l-l, it’ll probably be cold, but a nice cold like ice cream or Swiss chocolate. In any event, I won’t ever have to bother again with fly-screens and insects that bite and burrow. Canada will be good to me.” You are wrong on so many levels. 1) It can get hot here; 2) Mosquitos can live through the coldest winters in the world and come out the other side unsullied with frostbite but in a bitingly bad mood; and 3) They will target you as a newcomer twice as much, in the same way zombies always go for the young cute girl because fresh meat is more fun.

Sadly, if you are near a standing body of water – and seriously, in Canada, where are you not? – you are going to get bitten. Accept it and get ready for part two of warmer weather in Northern Alberta - the gnat. In many ways these are gnot gnearly as gnice as the mosquito. There are about 22,000 of them per cubic inch in the greater Fort McMurray area, a number which doubles if there’s a golf course nearby, and they all seem to congregate around my backswing. They are also known as a blackfly, a midge, no-see-ums, or by the affectionate ‘little bastards.’  There is a fanciful thought that they do not bite as much as mosquitos. This belief is like believing there is a difference between being ripped to shreds by a hungry tiger or a hungry lion; the end result is the same.

Between them, these two insects can extract enough blood from a human being to cause insanity, and anyone who murders a spouse and can show more than 20 bite marks on his body has a reasonable defense.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Look over your fence and you will see, in all his glory, homo sapiens canadiensis, the glory of the unbundled, unencumbered Canadian man. He is easily identified by a white rim around his head, as the cap he wore all winter has finally been doffed to get some sun, eh? He has brown arms until slightly above the elbow, as well as a brown V at the neck that looks like it should wash off but doesn’t, a belly that protrudes further and further over his baggy shorts every year, knobbly knees, and a glorious white, almost hairless body. Polar bears look at the colour of his skin and say ‘too bright’ before they retreat before the glare. Watch carefully for the glory of this sight as he briefly celebrates the warmer weather because by day two, homo canadiensis has retreated back inside with a pink, sunburnt torso, a grumpy mood, a wish for the damn hot weather to be over, and the hot tub covered again until next winter.

And if he’s back inside annoying his wife, he better hope she’s been skeeter or no-see-um bit less than 20 times.

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KEVIN THORNTON

Kevin has been writing for YMM since the first issue. Many of his articles have been pseudonymous, hidden behind the tags Keyano writer or YMM staff. Kevin has been a columnist for many years, working for some of the leading newspapers of the world, including the New York Times and the Devon Dispatch.

Website: theoldfortamusingfromtheoilsands.blogspot.ca/

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