Tag Archives: winter

Hearty or Crazy? Birds that stay in the cold

Diane and I love birds. Making no attempt to disguise ourselves as amateur ornithologists or even casual bird people, we simply enjoy watching them and we’re often fascinated by their intelligence, perseverance and beauty. Because they’re found almost everywhere from rural farmlands to urban parks, almost anybody can enjoy them by simply stopping to look, listen and learn. Keeping a promise to two of our followers whose devote their blogs to the beauty of birds, Diane and I braved the -25 Celsius frigid cold in both Edmonton and Calgary on our recent holiday jaunt to Canada and searched for photographic opportunities of birds crazy enough to withstand Alberta winters.

Braving the cold in search of birds

braving the cold in search of birds

Not surprisingly, only a few species developed characteristics hearty enough to allow year round residency in places north of the 49th parallel and we limited all pictures except the featured image to Diane’s camera so please don’t expect a National Geographic photo spread.
Understanding nature has a plan for everything, we used to feel sorry for the poor little creatures until and wondered how they do it until we realized they’re well suited for the challenge and might even enjoy owning the skies for six months. Unsure why we never simply Googled why the birds don’t freeze, we’ve included a few facts for the curious to help clarify their tolerance.

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The photogenic side of cold

Reflecting back on our last holiday season spent in the cold, I’m glad we’re back and even happier that the sweltering tropical heat is merely months away. Having spent one week in Edmonton, Diane’s home town, and one week in Calgary, our home for six years, visiting with family was cold but fun. Experiencing relatively average or even above average Canadian winter temperatures while most of America was sweltering in a brown Christmas, the real cold came in for the last few days and reminded us how much the cold sucks.

dogsAs the photographer for our blog, Diane brought her new camera which hasn’t seen much use other than sitting on one of the many pieces of furniture marked for sale due to our upcoming move. Although many people in Canada spends much of the holiday season indoors due to the cold, we always find time to walk along the River Valley Trail. Edmonton’s premier (and only) scenic attraction, winter walks along the frozen North Saskatchewan River always reveal something beautiful and this trip was no different. With only 88 days until we file for the MM2H visa and less than that until our house is up for sale, this is no doubt the last time I reminisce about cold for some time.

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Uniquely Canadian

As we approach the final full day of our last trip to the cold before the adventure to SE Asia, we awoke to a -17C day with a -27C wind chill, proving it’s absolutely time to get our of here. It also snowed about four inches yesterday which is not Buffalo worthy but still more than I prefer (that would be no snow).

The featured image above is one gross and unhealthy thing that I will actually miss: Poutine Fries. Dripping with gravy and cheese curds and served at the mall, it may be the only thing Western Canadians appreciate about Quebec .
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Cold: The Final Frontier before Malaysia

One of the many advantages of an unexpected layoff is the freedom to choose your own vacation days and not asking your boss for two weeks off when everyone else wants the same thing.  Concluding the longest year of my life, Diane and I are off to her family’s homeland for the holiday season. With an approaching cold front promising minus 20 degree temperatures by Christmas Day, a tropical holiday with margaritas by the pool is not in the cards this year. Disclosing our plans to sell the house in March and file for an MM2H visa is part of the mission since Diane chose to keep her parents in the dark until now. (No, I don’t know why; I think it’s an Asian thing to keep secrets or something like that).

flames

The Saddledome: Home of the Calgary Flames

Other plans include outdoor ice skating, a Calgary Flames game against the defending Stanley Cup Champions (L.A. Kings), watching my favorite annual junior hockey tournament not available to Americans and rediscovering the fun of an Alberta winter. Radically different from what we plan on doing next year somewhere in Southeast Asia, we figured one last blast of cold should remind us why Canada was not an option for early retirement.

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy holiday season, please follow our holiday posts these next two weeks but please forgive any delays in responding due to our “hotel accommodations”. As first generation immigrants approaching their 80th birthdays, Diane’s parents are not likely to embrace the concept of home WiFi this season so we’ll be relying on Starbucks, the mall and eventually my sister-in-law’s house for New Year’s Eve.

Alberta Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all !!