Thompson's unrelenting winters are well known to locals and cold weather testers near and far alike. Now, using the word unrelenting is, of course, in itself a subjective term. It implies something negative. As if to say living in a place with six months of winter (or is it eight?) is not the most pleasant climate to live in for half or more of the year, regardless what other charms and attractions Thompson may hold.
We concede that point and realize there are some snow and cold enthusiasts who just can't seem to get enough hours and days on their snowmobiles at -30 C or even -40 C.
When Environment Canada last month published its analysis of 57 years of weather records, dating back to 1955, for 39 major centres across Canada, and calculated the probability of having a white snow-covered Christmas Day, it found only four places where the probability, based on those historical records, was 100 per cent - Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Iqaluit and Kenora, Ont.
We're pretty sure if Thompson, which wasn't quite created as a locale in 1955 had been around, or was considered a major centre today, which it is not, we'd have been the fifth location on that list for having 100 per cent probability of having a white snow-covered Christmas. And that's saying something on a list so exclusive that even the four runner-ups - Winnipeg, Timmins, Quebec City and Goose Bay - had only a 98 per cent chance of having a white snow-covered Christmas. Close but no cigar err .. sleigh, I mean. Same for Thunder Bay coming in at 96 per cent and Brandon, which is an almost subtropical 91per cent. Bermuda shorts anyone?
While I'm not such a diehard that I count myself among the -30 C and -40 C enthusiasts (is there a more meaningless explanation than "Yes, but it's a dry cold" at -40 C?), after spending most of the time since the millennium in 2000 living in Yellowknife and Thompson, I am firmly of the belief that one has to either make "friends with winter," as some old-timers in the North say, or isolate and risk becoming unhinged. People don't do hibernation as well as bears, as appealing as it may seem in the abstract during this particularly frigid January.
So while the Farrside Quartet, featuring John Chapman, Dave Smith, Ian Farr, and for a time, Farr's dog, Scoop, may have disbanded in 2002, and moved on to such warmer climes at opposite ends of the country as Souris, P.E.I. and South Pender Island, B.C. over time, winter is still the perfect season here right at the centre of Canada to play their classic, "Peein' in the snow" or how about "Is it true what they say about THOMPSON?" originally recorded in 1983 at Funnyfarm Music on Purdue Avenue, with Michael Croft on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Kate Belle, "harmony vocals, 'Southern Belle' encouragement," Al Epp, "anonymous mandolin," harmony vocals, and Chuck McMillan on electric and acoustic lead guitar. You can listen to the 30-year-old Thompson classic at the Calgary-based Museum of Canadian Music website at: http://www.mocm.ca/Music/Title.aspx?TitleId=318853.
And remember: WinterFest 2013 kicks off Feb. 1 with a Christmas-tree fuelled bonfire and fireworks in the parking lot of the Thompson Regional Community Centre Friday evening beginning at 6 p.m.
Tip to photographers: be careful with your digital cameras if it's a seasonally cold night in the -30 C range. Having a digital camera working, while alternately being roasted in the heat of the bonfire and then plunged instantly into the cold in the frigid shadows, as you get warm and turn your face away from the fire, is a challenge even for a good camera. Trust me.
Bonhomme bonhomme sais-tu jouer?