Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


A Change in the Weather

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I recently went on an early morning jog in pursuit of my health. I had the streets and skies practically to myself. It’s gorgeous here in mid-October—that’s one of the benefits of living in Winnipeg.  At the end of my run, I chanced upon a guy, probably ten years older than me, riding a bike. He commented, “Well, you better enjoy this weather while you can ‘cause it’s gonna be gone real soon!”

I stopped for a second, then chimed back to him, “Last year the snow and cold didn’t kick in till the end of November, and it’s been kind of nice since the end of March. Last year was like this too.” I thought for a minute. In my first year here, I was thigh-deep in snow by Halloween, but for the past six years it’s been pretty nice.

“There’s been a change in the weather,” I said to the biker. “I guess global warming has been good to us!”

He leaned in to examine me with a perplexed stare as though I had inadvertently sprouted another head. Then he said, “Yup, better get your winter clothes because severe weather’s gonna be here in no time, you know.”

His small talk gives him away—clearly, he’s stubbornly reading an old script. Once upon a time, before the internet and jet planes, Winnipeg might have been considered a weird and isolated little city that just preferred to be left alone in ten months of winter. What I’ve seen is quite different. We get a nice spring, summer and fall. As I write this letter we’ve been without snow for over six months!

That habit of focusing on the negatives about this city and downplaying the positives gets in the way of really understanding and appreciating what’s here. From the inner city we’re always only 15 to 20 minutes away from fresh air and open sky. Within the city we have several thriving orchestras, a world-class ballet, great theatre. Our writer’s festival, folk festival and fringe festival rival those anywhere in the country. We’re about to have the Canadian Museum for Human Rights—what other city in North America has that type of leadership? We have excellent restaurants, parks and museums, and lots of discerning people who know how to appreciate them.

Then there’s our jazz scene. Right now it’s one of the fastest growing, most diversified and energetic cultures emerging today. In truth, jazz can only thrive in a diverse, tolerant and humane metropolis, which is exactly what Winnipeg has become over the years.

The guy on the bike is a perfect metaphor for what’s happening within Winnipeg. He’s still using an old almanac. He’s been on auto-pilot for so long that he can’t see that there’s been a change in the weather here. For me, Winnipeg has something quite special. I invite you to take time, take notice, see it, and celebrate it.

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