Having spent the bulk of my working life either north of 60 or in the provincial "norths", I'm rather accustomed to long, cold winters. I've lived places where your eyelids will freeze together, I've had more than a few bouts of frostbite, I've managed through a few blizzards, I've developed (some) patience when it comes to dealing with how the cold can slow things down and I've mastered the art of dressing in layers, or at least I like to think I have.
While I'm used to it to a certain extent, its doesn't necessarily mean that I have to LIKE it, however, and the past couple weeks were a reminder of that. Thankfully, my work schedule meant that I missed part of it but there was no escaping the second half of it. I woke up last Friday morning to my laptop telling me that as of 5am local time, the wind chill was a rather brisk -51C. This was the lowest wind-chill value I've seen in the time I've lived here and I'd have to go all the way back to my Nunavut and northern Manitoba days to have experienced something comparable. Wind chill values in the -60's were commonplace during the winter I spent in northern Manitoba but back then I had an indoor job and wasn't working 12-hour shifts. In the early 2000's I got a nice little dose of frostbite on my face after walking in a blizzard in Iqaluit just to say I did it. In my defense I was younger and didn't fully have the appreciation for Mother Nature that I have now. Needless to say, that was a feat that will not be repeated.
This past shift was particularly challenging and I don't think there was a single day that was "normal". Something was always breaking, weather it be a furnace, a fork flit, a light plant (in or case, two of them) or a frozen water/sewage line. As for work itself, there wasn't that much going on. I have some pretty good clothes for working out doors that I can layer up in and have developed a pretty good system but for the better part of three days the powers that be decided that it was too cold to be outside for any length of time so I spent the bulk of the weekend either in a lunch trailer (when the furnace was working and it wasn't a nippy -2C inside) or in a warm truck.
As i mentioned earlier, I'm more or less used to these types of situations but that doesn't mean I LIKE it. I made for what seems a very long shift and I was quite tired by the end of each day. On top of the cold, we had a pretty decent dump of snow at work so while I don't relish snow shovelling, at least it kept you moving and kept you warm. Most of the guys at work no about the time I spent in Nunavut so I get the odd joke about how it MUST be cold if the guy who was in Nunavut is mentioning the cold. Needless to say, I'm very glad to be off today. It's warmed considerable over the course of the last 4 days and the mercury is expected to flirt with the freezing mark, which is downright balmy compared to what we've just been through.