Is the SS Klondike gone?”

It’s when I find myself asking such questions that I know we are definitely earning every cent of our northern living allowance.

When the ice fog is so thick you can’t even see that historic paddle wheeler and, for a moment, ponder if it may have actually vanished, you know it’s cold.

Part ice fog, part deep freeze delusions, call it what you want.

When the mercury dropped to minus 40 in early January I found myself doing a double take as I slowly made my way across the bridge into Riverdale.

To put it bluntly, so far 2011 has been mighty frigid at times.

When old injuries that have been years in hiding begin to rear their ugly heads again. you know it is cold.

When there’s more squealing than usual in your life, be it your car, the ice forming in your nostrils or just you trying to squeeze into some old ski pants that fit perfectly last winter, it’s cold.

When your car literally cries at you when you try to make it do things it never should in these conditions, it’s cold.

Seriously, if your car sounds like Chewbacca having an asthma attack, it’s probably not wise to put it in reverse.

Square tires on the Flintstones, good. Square tires in reality, bad.

You know it’s cold when even the hip teens are wearing toques. To the few who aren’t, please note: no matter how hard you try, black-tipped ears will never be fashionable.

Wear that toque with pride.

There’s a reason folks in Australia and Florida and New Zealand and all other places where it is warm year-round don’t know what a toque is … they never need to wear one.

We do!

You know it is cold when the minute you walk out the door your follicles freeze and you discover just how much more hair has grown in your nostrils and eardrums since the last deep freeze.

I never thought I’d be able to tell the temperature just by breathing in through the nose.

You know it’s cold when a minimum two pairs of underwear is required before going outside and it takes as long to scrape the inside of your car windows as the outside.

And you really know it is cold when even the winter cyclists park their bikes.

To the few crazies still ridin’, please be careful. We can’t even see the SS Klondike let alone you.

Learn to hunker down, cozy up. Get some good books, rent some bad movies and wait it out.

It can’t stay cold forever. Can it?

Then, come spring, take that Northern Living Allowance and do something warm with it.

Buy a kayak, some high end tan-in-a-can or save up for a tropical holiday to a land without square tires, frozen nostril hair and toques.