Are pocketknives falling on your head?

By Sophie Shields

Take a moment to look out your window. Is it snowing?Raining? In between? Even though weather is a key part of our daily life, it is often beyond description. Indeed, a simple -30°C can’t do justice to the frigidity of a red-nosed January morning.Lucky for us, there is an array of weather-related terms from around the world for us to embrace.

No matter the weather, someone somewhere can describe it. Beginning in October, we can borrow from the Japanese kogarashi to describe the winter’s first wind. From there, we head to Finland,using the word kaamos to describe the longing for sunshine one feels on long polar nights when the sun barely rises inside the Arctic Circle. As the weather warms, we can then move back in time to the 18th century, describing light February snow as blenky, derived from blenks meaning ashes or cinders in Old English.

With March comes spring and a new phenomenon– rain. While “raining cats and dogs” might be a regular occurrence in the Glebe, “falling troll women” are less so. But in a city like Bergen,Norway, you might find det regner trollkjerringer about 239 days of the year! While the gendered origin of these “falling troll women” eludes me, it is the rainy days in Brazil when it’s raining pocketknives – chover canivete – which really worry me!

Spring brings a second phenomenon as well –wind. And, as long as it isn’t un vent à décorderles boeufs (Normandy French for a wind strong enough to blow cattle’s horns away), then windy days are perfect for uitwaaien (Dutch for going fora walk to relax on a windy day).

No matter what the weather, you might feel compelled to stay inside. You might be telling yourself that the weather is really gluggavedur (Icelandic for weather best enjoyed behind a window).

But even if a takatalvi (Finnish for unexpected cold snap during spring) has arrived, weather deserves to be enjoyed in person. Grab your spring/winter gear and head out for an uitwaaien. Just don’t forget to wear a hard hat, you don’t want to be stuck outside when it starts raining pocketknives!

Sophie Shields is a Carleton student studying global literature and a proud Franco-Ukrainianwho is learning German. She is the social media coordinator for the Glebe Report.

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