December 4, 2023
When we lived in Moose Lake, there was a teacher from Australia who came to work for a year in the north (we never really understood it, either). He used to complain that we Canadians were always going on about the weather. Mind you, that was before the winter had set in and he got a taste of what has shaped our collective psyche. He was right, though; we do have a bit of a preoccupation with atmospheric conditions. This obsession may hearken back to our agrarian roots, but long after most of Canada has migrated from farms into cities we continue to dwell on the changes outside.
The weather has a noticeable effect of the mood of the people as well. There is a certain surliness that is peculiar to bad weather days. Days of sunshine bring lightness to our being; it is as though everyone is my neighbor when the sky is blue. I often wonder how people in Vancouver deal with those long stretches of sunless days. I guess if I lived there I might see it differently; one becomes acclimatized to one’s surroundings.
This fall has had a special quality to it that long term Manitobans can appreciate. The warm weather is a gift that we seldom get in November. Although we have had a few truly wintry days, overall it has been quite temperate. People were lingering outside to soak in as much of the beautiful fall weather as they can before we turn the corner. Chores that usually require full winter gear are being completed in shirt sleeves. We even squeezed in a few extra fire drills here at school.
One of the science clusters in Grade 5 is about weather and climate and learning to differentiate between the two terms. Of course as adults, we all have a sense that weather is the day to day fluctuations outside, while climate refers to the weather trends of an area over the long term. We know that one cold winter does not end the debate on climate change.
Climate can also refer to the mood or culture of a community. We are very fortunate at St. Alphonsus School. We have developed a good climate. People who visit our school notice it and remark on it. We are known in the wider community for our positive environment. I may be more sensitive to the metaphoric temperature changes this year, as I am more deeply connected to the whole community, but this fall the mood inside the school seemed to match the weather outside: you can hear it in the children’s voices, you can see it on the staff members’ faces and you can feel it as you walk past parents in the halls. This school is a good place to be and all of us help to maintain the climate. Although we have weathered storms and more will surely come, we can be confident that our community’s strengths will bring us back to this long term trend.