Blue skies and Freedom

February 1, 2019. New York, New York.  Ah, that majestic southern Manhattan skyline towering over the frigid waters of the harbor, a sight that no photograph can do justice to, as the scale can be experienced only in person.

The first four photographs were taken from a ferry on a bitterly cold but sunny winter day.

As I was sailing past the Statue of Liberty, it was a poignant reminder of the hope it symbolized for the many who glimpsed it for the first time as they pulled into the New York harbor, after escaping war, death, persecution with nothing but their lives, holding on to nothing but their dreams. 

(Click on any pic to start the slideshow, descriptions are underneath each photo)

In the past two days, the city saw its first snowfall, with temperatures plummeting to -14 Celsius – the coldest it has been so far this year. While the polar vortex gripped Mid-West USA, many New Yorkers – who were not so badly hit, wrote and posted and complained a lot about the cold.

And yet, and yet…… you see – I DO think it was much ado about nothing.

Because of this:

I lived in Winnipeg, Canada for around two years and lived through three of its winters. Days with -30 c and -40 c were common with the windchill factor making it even lower. 
A friend who lives there posted the temperature yesterday: -40c BEFORE windchill…another friend who lives there said it was -53 Celsius (-63.4 °Fahrenheit) WITH the windchill. In Churchill where you can see polar bears, around 1000 km north of Winnipeg, – 60c (-76° Fahrenheit) used to be common. As you can see here, it says that currently Winnipeg is colder than the North Pole and as cold as Mars  and that in February, ’twill be -70 Celsius in certain cities  

I lived in Montreal, Canada, for many years…the cold was wetter, and though it wouldn’t quite go to -40c, days with WET -28 Celsius, were quite common, and in some ways more agonizing than the dry Canadian Prairie winters. Days when you’d see that the “high” was -19c and the low was a wet bone-chilling -33c  Luckily, most of the city is accessible through underground walkways.

In typical hardy Canadian fashion, no schools, universities or workplaces would be closed in either city. People would be going around playing ice hockey. Outside. No, really.

I am so, so grateful for my years in Canada (along with my love for high-altitude mountaineering, which I did aplenty in the Himalayas, Rockies and northern Canada, plus an innate high-resistance to cold)…because thanks to it, any blustery wintry day in NYC feels balmy  (And yes, I do share jokes with my Canadian friends on how temperatures that would be considered “highs” in Canada, fluster many Americans.) 

Admitted, the American Mid-West were Canadian-cold for a couple of days this week. And when I lived in the Boston area, those New England winters were much colder than the Big Apple’s.

But thank you dear (and friendly) Winnipeg for teaching me to never, ever complain about the cold in any other part of the world – and ESPECIALLY in balmy New York City  where ’twill be a “warm” -12 Celsius overnight. 

Most experiences in life are truly relative…..☃️❄️⛄️

Thank you Canada 🇨🇦 For your cold I shall always be grateful, among of course, several other gifts from you.

But thank you New York City for that unbridled sense of Freedom one feels within your fulcrum, that infectious energy emanating from the entire City – second to no other urban center of the world, and for that sense of awe your skyline always inspires and has, for generations, for all those who land on your shores and who sail by that Lady in the Harbor.