Having told friends, family and colleagues that I dislike winter, I’ve received endless advice on how to turn my chilly frown upside down. My dear friend Myriam even provided a list of reasons to like winter. So I’m going to try again to change my attitude, and to chart my progress I’m going to keep a snow diary. All I need is some snow.
Snow Day 1: Snow Me Down!
Fortunately for me, this year set a record for latest first snowfall of the winter (Nov 6) in Edmonton, the “gateway to the north,” although that name is as much for historical reasons as its northerly location. The first snowfall is ugly—no fluffy snowflakes drifting down to blanket the earth. More like little streaks of misery blowing sideways, stinging the face of anyone who goes outside and making the roads icy. Clearly, I will need a different sort of snow to change my attitude. They say the Inuit have many words for snow. Well, I generally have a few too, though they’re not fit for public consumption.
Snow Day 5: Picture Perfect?
This is more like it! Big flakes floating down like feathers, making our acreage postcard-pretty. I enjoy it from indoors, sitting by the fireplace with a mug of hot chocolate, looking out the window, my thoughts drifting to what this area must have looked like to the first settlers as they sheltered in soddies and used buffalo chips for fires. That sounds hard, no fun at all, and not the way to appreciate winter. I focus on the rolling hills and trees wearing their new white winter coat, the pristine canvas that is our yard. Oh, there’s the neighbours’ big dog running loose. She’s making tracks all over the pristine white. Now what is she doing…no, stop!! Ew. I bet the neighbours won’t come over and pick that up.
Snow Day 7: Woman vs. Snow Blower
Snow, snow everywhere! The front steps are a pile of giant marshmallows. Clearing snow will be good exercise, something I get too little of during my winter hibernation. So I bundle up in snow pants, parka, mukluks, tuque, mitts, and head out, insisting to my husband that I can manage the snow blower. I’ve watched him a hundred times and have read the manual. I push and haul the snow blower out of the garage—it’s heavier than I realized—pump the primer twice, per the instructions, grasp the cord and pull. It only comes out part way. I yank again, extending my arm fully. Nothing. Try twice more. My shoulder hurts but the wretched thing won’t start. Prime it again, take a firmer stance, sweating, and try again. Nothing. And I’ve probably flooded it. While I’m pacing and giving the machine dirty looks, my husband comes out. He looks bemused. “Having trouble?” Hardee har har. He steps up to the machine, yanks the cord once, and the beast roars to life. “Have fun” he says as he drives away. He thinks I’ll give up and go inside, which normally I would but I’m determined to conquer both the snow blower and my loathing of winter. Push the machine out to the driveway, adjust the blower thingy, away we go. Easy peasy. We go downhill for 60 feet and uphill for 60 feet before levelling out for the final 40. That’s 160 feet of driveway to clear, if you’re counting. But the snow blower isn’t self-propelled and when I reach the end of the driveway it doesn’t corner very well. I look back at the path I’ve cleared—it’s not very wide for all the effort. Let’s see—it cut a path 18 inches wide, the driveway is 12 feet wide, that’s….well, a lot of walking back and forth. But I persevere. Finally, two hours later, it’s done. I’m out of breath, sweaty, and have no feeling in my hands, but it’s done. I stow the snow blower and go inside, pausing at a window to survey my handiwork—not bad! After showering I go back to the window to take another look—it’s snowing again and the driveway is white. I close the blinds.