No business like snow business

McMurray Musings Connects

By THERESA WELLS, Connect Columnist

Ah, winter. That time of year when you make some hot chocolate and dreamily observe the soft, white, fluffy snowflakes descending from the sky, landing on the earth and creating a gentle white glistening blanket covering the city. It’s absolutely blissful, and you are entranced as the snow continues to gracefully fall.

And fall, and fall, and fall, until you remember that your dream-like state will only last long enough for you to open your door and realize you need to shove your deck, your sidewalk, your driveway and clean off your car. Suddenly the bliss evaporates and while the snow continues to fall to the ground you fall to earth with a thud as you remember that snow means work.

I have a distinct love/hate relationship with snow. Unlike my friend Christina – the dog musher or my other friend Phil – the avid cross-country skier; I have no recreational necessity for snow, and my admiration for it ends as soon as the accumulation of it on my driveway begins. Instead of visions of swirling in the snow, I begin thinking about all the swearing while trying to clear steps so the dog can get into the backyard (as any snow on the steps means she will simply look at me sadly and refuse to go one paw further).

I begin contemplating the time spent clearing my driveway only to see a few flakes begin to fall, quickly becoming another avalanche of snow and undoing the work I have done.

This year though I have been eying up some of the local kids as they are sent out to clean their own driveways and sidewalks, and thinking that perhaps the time has come to hire someone who comes armed with a shovel and some motivation to handle the snow-mageddons as they come.

In truth though, I know I will never do it, stubborn to the core even if it means snow pants and down jackets and early evenings spent with cold ears and fingers and excessive grumbling noises emanating from deep within.

While snow may not figure in my recreational pursuits, complaining about snow is a time-honoured Canadian recreation, where phrases like “enough snow for you?” are as common as ending a sentence with “eh”. The abundance of snow or the lack of snow, the speed with which it falls, how it clings to the road and your nose and eyelashes; these are all things about which we, as Canadians, feel we have a national right to complain, and so we do.

One of my favourite snow memories is from a country across the ocean, where large amounts of snowfall are very uncommon. We had just landed at Heathrow in London for the Christmas holidays, and only hours before the airport would shut for several days due to excessive snow accumulation and a complete lack of snow clearing equipment ( a turn of events that turned that Christmas season into complete chaos for thousands of travellers in Britain).

The snow in London was beautiful, but the British, despite their traditional stiff upper lip, were woefully unprepared for the Canadian-style snowstorm that seemed to arrive with us. When we left the hotel to explore a helpful doorman tried to hand us an umbrella, and all I could do was laugh as I explained how the weight of the snow would just collapse it. We watched as smartly dressed Londoners slipped and slid down London streets on their smooth-soled leather shoes. But slowly the magic of snow took over as random snowball fights began to break out between the most unlikely participants and snowmen began popping up on street corners and even in the centre of one intersection.

We wandered from shop to shop, revelling in our first British experience and watching as the British greeted an abundance of snow that just kept falling. Finally, we wandered into one shop where the shopkeeper was hopelessly trying to remove inches of thick, wet snow from his entry way with a kitchen broom.

He looked at me and sighed, the kind of deep British sigh I would come to know and love, said, “Can you believe I don’t even OWN a shovel?” in the most delightful British accent, and went back to listlessly attempting to move mounds of snow that were quite intent on remaining.

Ah, winter. Can’t live with you and can’t imagine life without your soft fluffy white flakes of dazzling brilliance, falling from the sky and making me crazy at the exact same time you fill my heart with wonder. And, at least, I own a shovel.

– Connect Weekly –