Percy Saltzman Essay: You're Almost Safe For Another Year

Sunday, March 23, 1952.

(CBC Trans-Canada Network)
P.P. Saltzman,
Dominion Public Weather Service, Toronto.

Spring, glorious spring, is just around the corner and how we've all been looking forward to it. Gardeners are watching the crocuses spear their way out of the ground. Motorists are muttering spring tune-ups and oil changes. Housewives are eyeing their feather-dusters and husbands are eyeing the nearest exits.

Everyone's got that air of expectancy, that dreamy look that seems to say--if winter's come, can spring be far behind?

And what's behind all these stirrings and strivings--why the weather of course. For what is spring if not the loveliest season of the year, the favorite theme of poets and peasants alike. And the seasons, of course, are simply the sum and substance of our weather.

But let us put aside these vague and wondrous terms of poetry and prose and turn to the matter-of-fact language of science. For strange as it may seem at first blush, the weather and your glands go hand in hand. Your body and the barometer are closer than you may think. Disease and the daily forecast are siamese twins--and it is not too much to say that now that spring is almost here, you're almost safe for another year.

We know that our health and energy vary with the season. We are at our worst in January, February and March. These past few months we've been most tired and most susceptible to disease and to ills.

We've been whipping our bodies to the limit, straining ourselves to work harder and more effectively than ever before. But speeding up at the end of March is like whipping a tired horse and expecting him to win the race. Our health has been under its greatest strain during the months just past but as we round the turn of winter and see the shining goal of spring ahead, we can heave a hearty sigh and say 'We're almost safe for another year'.

Here in Canada, and speaking weatherwise, we are among the most fortunate and unfortunate of peoples. Fortunate because we enjoy a stimulating climate and unfortunate because our climate stimulates us too much. We enjoy our stimulating climate because it's borne on the wings of swirling storm centres. How many times have we read the forecasts only to be told again and again that a new disturbance is heading our way. The 49th parallel and all populated points north lie along the major storm tracks of the continent.

Not a low pressure area that is born in the far west, the .far north, or the deep south of our continent but seems to swing in our direction. And so our bodies take a tremendous barometric buffeting, first high pressure, then low, now high temperature, now low, strong winds and light, from the east, from the west, humidity up, humidity down--barometer rising, barometer falling. And did we but know it, our nerves and muscles and blood vessels :rise to meet challenge of our ever-changing skies. Like the powerful tide at sea, the weather exerts its push and pull on our very bone and sinew.

Everyone is familiar with the increased incidence of disease in winter. We need not dwell on this season of sniffles, these months of colds and coughs and coryza. We're all brothers in bondage to the illnesses of the chest and throat. Nor need we dwell on the pains and pangs of arthritis and rheumatism- we all know that winter is that dread season that throws everyone out of joint.

We need mention only the well-known truth that more of our older citizens are carried off in cold weather than at any other season of the year. We need mention only that people work best in the spring, for this is the season when they are healthiest.

Of course, different people show different signs of strain, depending on their disposition, but in the main, if you've gotten over the winter hump and are feeling fine this far, you're certainly almost safe for another year.

This is the time that tries men's souls and this is the time by all that's right and reasonable when we need a vacation. Instead we are resolving to strain ourselves to the limit, to work harder and better than ever. But we are working against winter and its uppercuts on the weary body and mind. Yes, it's in January and February, not in June or July, that we should seek respite from our labors, from the burden of cold and storminess. For the energetic, dynamic Canadian, a New Year's best in southern warmth is best, since it gives a restful break in the long period of 'winter stress. Of course, the matter of money must be considered, but we can dream, can't we?

Following the sun, by the way, is an ancient cure, well known to both man and beast. Notice the alley cat as he lies in the sunshine. You think he's fully asleep but as the hours pass an~ the shadows move, cat moves too, keeping step with the smiling sun. Fortunately for catnaps, there's no need for money in the kitty.

Why we have to adjust to the weather can be stated in one short sentence- we're warm blooded. We have a certain body temperature to maintain. This temperature doesn't change to suit the weather. As a matter of fact, our body heat cannot change. And it is in order to keep our clinical thermometers reading exactly 98.6 degrees fahrenheit that we fight a never-ending battle with the weather.

We're uncomfortable during the hot and humid days of summer. We're uncomfortable when the air is damp and cold. But if healthy people are disturbed by such things, think what it means to the weak and the infirm, the rheumatic and the arthritic, the heart sufferers, the people with asthma, bronchitis and sinus trouble, think what it means to the aged. For all of these people, a change is needed, an escape into a season less stormy and stimulating. And it's spring that is the open door, the fresh season of soothing and sedative weather. After we've hacked and coughed our way through a miserable winter, after we've won through the turbulent months of January, February and March, and come through battered but safe on the other side, we can breathe easier, for we're almost safe for another year.

Life is tough enough without having to bear the added burden of winter's weather. Someone once said that winter is not a. season, it's an occupation--and we might add--an occupation fit only for the young. It's far too strenuous for the old and the sick. Most people who have passed 65 find life very difficult toward the end of February when weather demands are most severe. These people suffer from a disease we might call "Februaryitis", and for these patients there is only one sure cure--spring. So far as health's concerned, there's only one way to get along with winter--don't get too attached to it. Take the best it can give, fight off its worst, and then forsake it in good season--and none better than spring.

We're not the same in spring as we are in winter. What may poison us in February may merely pain us in April. The curve of our health is a seasonal one, at its lowest when temperatures are lowest, on the upswing with the approach of spring--that magic season when a young man's fancy and an old man's thinking-- I'm almost safe for another year."