When we make up Monday, it will be March. Regardless of Groundhog Day predictions, the calendar tells us that spring is allegedly three weeks away. Canadians, however, know the reality of spring may be much further down the road. But psychologically, there’s something special about leaving February in the rear-view mirror. The days are getting longer. Snow banks recede. There are almost always a few days in March that offer the hint of warmer weather.

This has been a difficult winter for other reasons: COVID-19 restrictions have meant travelling south is impossible for most people; being stuck inside and being isolated from family and friends has added to seasonal gloom. And yet…. Winter is also a time to celebrate. COVID-19 has meant that many people have discovered winter hiking, snow shoeing or skiing. Many friends have told me that getting out for a skate has never felt better. So for your weekend reading pleasure, I’ve assembled some of my favourite seasonal stories from across the global network of The Conversation.

And of course, the weekend is a great time to catch up on the latest episodes of our podcasts. Don’t Call Me Resilient looks at “The Unseen” – Canada’s migrant workers. It’s a topic many people would like to ignore, but something we should all be aware of. The Conversation Weekly explains why more people are thinking of leaving Hong Kong after China’s clampdown on dissent. Throw on your ear pods, get out for a walk and listen to both episodes.

Have a great weekend and we’ll be back in your Inbox on Monday.

Scott White

CEO | Editor-in-Chief

Weekend Reads

Why some snowbirds are flying south despite the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions

Valorie A. Crooks, Simon Fraser University; Jeremy Snyder, Simon Fraser University

The decision to go south for the winter during the ongoing pandemic is a complex one, informed by factors such as availability of recreational opportunities and cost of living.

Snow shovelling: Healthy exercise or deadly activity?

Scott Lear, Simon Fraser University

Shovelling snow is excellent exercise that works the upper and lower body. However, it's important to remember that digging out from a storm pushes many people to their maximal fitness capacity.

What’s behind $15,000 electricity bills in Texas?

Seth Blumsack, Penn State

Some Texans are receiving eye-popping electric bills after power providers passed on volatile costs to some of their customers – legally.

How do arctic foxes hunt in the snow?

Jacob Job, Colorado State University

Arctic foxes have a few special talents that help them sneak up on unseen prey and pounce.

COVID-19: it’s freezing outside, but you still need to open your windows

Ian Colbeck, University of Essex

Ventilation is one of the most important methods of preventing the spread of infectious disease, a fact we've known for centuries.

COVID-19 has crippled the winter sports industry – but a digital revolution will help it recover

Sascha L. Schmidt, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management; Nicolas Frevel, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

A panel of winter sports experts told us that pandemic-enforced technological advances are providing hope for the shattered sector.

What exactly is the polar vortex?

Zachary Lawrence, University of Colorado Boulder; Amy Butler, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The media often call unusually cold, snowy storms a 'polar vortex.' The real polar vortex isn't coming down to visit the lower 48, but changes to the polar vortex can influence winter weather.

What are the origins of Lent?

Joanne M. Pierce, College of the Holy Cross

The 40-day Lenten season, when many Christians observe fasting, began in mid-February. A scholar explains how the practice may have emerged around the fifth century.


A woman takes part in a protest in Montreal, Jan. 30, 2021, to demand status for all workers and to demand dignity for all non status migrants as full human beings as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

How we treat migrant workers who put food on our tables: Don’t Call Me Resilient EP 4 transcript

Vinita Srivastava, The Conversation; Ibrahim Daair, The Conversation

How we treat migrant workers who put food on our tables: Don't Call Me Resilient EP 4 transcript

A man is arrested during a protest against Hong Kong’s National Security Law in July 2020. Miguel Candela/EPA

Leaving Hong Kong after China’s clampdown: where are people thinking of going and why? – The Conversation Weekly podcast

Gemma Ware, The Conversation; Daniel Merino, The Conversation

Plus new research finds a way to speed up the search for dark matter. Listen to episode 4 of The Conversation Weekly.