I know I’m a Canadian.
I know I can’t do anything about it.
I know I’ve lived with winter for over si – make that two -decades.
Yet I can’t help but feel that the winter weather of 2017-18 has really taken off the gloves and come out swinging this year.
I suspect that others may also be feeling pretty buffeted by Old Person (Politically Correct) Winter as well, judging by several of the colourful comments I’ve heard around town.
During our most recent blizzard, I actually heard a colleague, angrily digging out his vehicle, mutter something about this “white vomit.”
As I was also scraping a foot of ice and snow off my car windshield at the time, with my nostrils slowly freezing shut, I silently agreed with him. He later admitted that the phrase had not originated with him; it was quite common on the internet these days, he said, which would tend to re-enforce my theory that people are truly weary of this particular winter.
Case in point. The man who plows out my driveway came to collect his pay the other night. (His plowing log for my house alone covered two full pages.)
I couldn’t help but notice that this normally pretty cheerful guy has recently developed the 1,000 yard stare of a weary, seasoned combat soldier. In a low monotone he described how he was in the process of purchasing a third plow attachment for his truck. The first two, he muttered, had met with snowy Waterloos on drift-choked back roads, returning home in the equivalent of diesel body bags.
“Just don’t know how much more of this I can take,” this man said. “The sand trucks rumbling out day and night, armed for battle, the constant explosions of ice pellets, the unending stream of radio bulletins announcing that schools are closed and my kids are going to be trapped at home again. All of them. At the same time. I may,” he said, with a tear in his eye, “finally have to head south one of these winters, a traitor to the Great White North. Oh, the shame.”
While we’re on the topic, in January and February I find myself in a bit of a love/hate relationship with our community plows.
Of course, when it’s been heavily snowing for 12 straight hours, you really feel like running out with a big Canadian flag, cheering, as those motorized behemoths at last fight their way down your street, parting the tons of snow like the Red Sea, releasing you from snowy captivity.
Heroes of the hour.
On the other hand, what Canadian hasn’t had the experience of spending several hours digging out the driveway, doggedly beating a way through walls of thick snow and ice, Then, just as you finally reach the road and freedom, exhausted and triumphant, like the guys who dug the Tunnel between England and France, you suddenly freeze. In the distance there is a familiar roaring sound. And it’s getting closer.
Suddenly, like one of those dinos from Jurassic Park, The Plow emerges from the ice haze.
In a kind of stunned disbelief, like millions of other Canadians, I have watched as a veritable Swiss Alp of snow suddenly fills in the end of my cleaned out driveway, tossed by The Plow’s mighty blade. (Some of the chunks resemble small meteors.) Then the beast trundles on its merry way to the next driveway.
I’ve seen grown men break down weeping during this experience.
When winter is truly getting me down, though, I have a little trick that never fails to lighten my spirits, bring a twinkle to my eye.
I build a snow man in the back yard, a big and ugly creation, and hang a sign, Old Person Winter, (still PC) around its neck.
Then I destroy it. Violently.With a golf club.
I guess I should follow the example of a friend of mine, who is, coincidentally, the wife of one of the local snow plow operators.
“On really awful mornings, with huge snow drifts piling in, and ice rain predicted, I definitely wake up grumpy,” she said.
“But on those lovely, sunlit, quiet winter mornings, I let him sleep in.”