It’s Getting Cold? … Isn’t It?

Well, maybe. It seems that everyone to the south of us is experiencing some interesting cold weather with large dumps of snow.

We have had some snow, but by Halloween it had mostly disappeared and temperatures were above 0°C. We are getting some snow today, but it’s still fairly warm out. Very strange for this area, but the elders do say that generally, the northern weather is a lot warmer than it used to be. For this year, they also predict a severe winter based on their observations of the behaviour of the animals. I posted about that earlier this autumn. So far, though, that doesn’t seem to be case.

A frozen lake photo from last year.

Yath is the Chipewyan word for snow. Chipewyan is one of the eleven official languages of the Northwest Territories – French, English and nine indigenous languages. There are lots of yath-related words and compound words. The quality and quantity of the yath is very important to the animals and their survival, and hence to the health of the land. Because of that, lots of yath vocabulary came into being.

I never thought that I would think so much about yath. But I do now.

New yath. (Yup, that’s a small joke. Really small, I know … )

As I already stated, yath is extremely important up here. An entire ecosystem has evolved with it, and many species depend on it for their survival, both animals and plants. It is a seminal part of the culture of the indigenous peoples. But it’s not as healthy as it has been.

The amount of yath that falls is erratic and unpredictable; it starts late, it starts early; it’s too cold at the wrong time, it’s too warm at the wrong time. And that seems to be the case farther south, too.

This exhausts the animals and plants, can damage their health or even kill them outright. A bear that wakes up too early will have nothing to eat, may try to beg from humans, and … a fed bear is a dead bear. A fast thaw can cause flooding followed by drought.

We all need healthy yath. Cold when it’s supposed to be cold, melting when it’s supposed to be melting. Crispy and squeaky in -40°C, soft and sticky in -1°C.

It looks so hardy and tough, but it is actually a sort of delicate white carpet that stains easily, so the next time you’re treated to some yath, I encourage you to try to appreciate its intricacy and necessity, even if you hate what comes with it and the chores it brings.

Greetings from yath central. 🙂

35 thoughts on “It’s Getting Cold? … Isn’t It?”

    1. Thank you. 🙂 This is considered to be a tough environment, but it’s actually quite delicate, and there’s such a balancing act between the temperature and in particular, the animals’ survival.

  1. A really thoughtful and informative post, Lynette. South Africa also has eleven official languages just like the North West Territories. Your photos are gorgeous and I hope you get exactly the right amount of yath this winter. I wouldn’t mind a bit of it here in Florida. 😅

  2. We started to get yath here yath-ter-day. Ha Ha. Yes, hoping for a clean white winter with sufficient snow to keep the eco system healthy. Planning on a harder winter this year, as I am finally getting yath tires on our second car. Cheers Lynette. Allan

    1. Hahaha. 😀

      It has suddenly gotten a lot colder here, and that leads me to think that the elders’ prediction of a severe winter is going to come true. We’ve had about 6 cm of yath since I posted this entry, so it has really started to some down.

  3. I have never minded the yath, except those seasons when it seems to consistently fall on my days off every week. Or when I’m stuck in a place that fears the yath and has no way of clearing the streets of it… which happened to me once on a March trip to Oklahoma.

    1. I understand completely. There are places that live in fear of the wrath of yath but should really know better. The purchase of a yathplow is an effective amulet every time. 😉

  4. Micro-dosing with melatonin has helped me tolerate and even appreciate yath 🙂
    We just got our first significant snowfall in Edmonton. It was still pretty light though. I’ve been admiring it out the window all morning. Especially easy to do as the Hubs was the one who did the shovelling, ha ha.

    1. Hahaha. 😀

      We have had a steady yathfall now for about 72 hours. It’s piling up, and in a major way. I don’t mind it much and the cold isn’t a big issue either if you have the right clothes, but I really don’t like having to shovel. I just mutter to myself about the great exercise I’m getting.

      1. Hee Hee, I mutter too. Or sigh…that’s a big one.
        I think we must be getting your system then. We’ve got a snowfall warning, woot woot! I love it when it just falls and falls. I mean, if you’re going to ruin my life, do it with gusto 😉

  5. Great post. I wish more folks would accept the reality that changes in climate can have profound and lasting impact, instead of pretending that it’s not happening because their party leaders are providing “alternative facts”. (Sorry if I got political; this situation is a trigger point for me. I know, it’s shocking that I have trigger points, right? 😉 )

    1. You can get as political as you would like. 🙂 Myself, I love a good alternative fact. So dense and thick. Makes a good alternative wall. 😉

      The indigenous peoples have been warning about the changes for decades, it’s just that few would listen to them. Now, of course, there’s more attention to it, but still not enough, imho. The horse may be hurtling away into night while we’re busy trying to find the latch on the barn door.

      1. Whew! I’m glad we’re on the same page.

        Now, a bit of housekeeping: I haven’t said anything before, but I’m unable to click “like” on anything in your comment threads. (You may or may not have noticed this, perhaps thinking “well, he’s a bit rude. I compose a lovely response to one of his comments and I get nada.”)

        I know other people can click like, as I get email notifications when you or someone else likes my comments, so it’s entirely possible that this mishap is on my end. (Hmm. That last line sounds a bit tawdry.) But I thought I would mention it in case you want to check your settings to see if something is amiss…

        1. Hi Brian, it must be something at your end somehow, because you show up at my end as having clicked like. This thread is showing likes from you too. The ways of WP can sometimes be mysterious indeed. I will definitely check though.

  6. In England we used to talk of needing cold Winters to kill off certain bugs. It is all such a delicate balance isn’t it? We never get really cold winters here, although I suspect my offspring might disagree.

  7. It’s all about the yath! Thanks for your northern insights. Still enjoying clear skies here. My cousins in Drumheller had minus 19 yesterday and it was 12 here and i was out cycling. Skipped the swim though.

    1. Yes – this is Canada and consideration of where the yath falls and how much is extremely important. 🙂

      Can you hear my jealousy?? 😉 I am going to be retiring in about three years and am looking forward to returning on a permanent basis to Penticton. No more -40 unless I go looking for it. 🙂

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