The Seven Ages of A Canadian Winter.
Yes I know it's that difficult time of year again, but come on people, we can get through this together. To better navigate our ordeal, it’s important that we take the time to review and prepare for the challenge ahead. We've already been through the first two stages; be brave there are only five more to go.
1. Anticipation - October
As the long, hot summer surrenders to the first hint of an autumn breeze, many of us experience a small thrill: the leaves are turn golden yellow and red; winter is on its way, bringing relief from the heat and promising the many splendours that accompany that most Canadian of seasons.
|Ah the beauty of snow, the delicate patterns of lacy white on trees, the ice glistening on the frozen water, the feel of fresh snow under foot. Oh Joy! Oh Rapture!|
We envision snow-flecked landscapes, ice-covered ponds and joyful Christmas choirs. Digging deep into the closet, we gaze fondly upon our parkas and mitts. We dream of frosty adventures skating on the canal, swooshing down ski-hills and making snowmen.
2. Shocked Surprise - November
The first cruel winds of November cut through us and we pretty much want to fall down and die right there. Three days of hostile muttering ensue.
3. Sarcasm - December
A huge December snowfall—awesome! And maybe a little freezing rain in there because THAT WOULD BE PLEASANT. Wake up and there’s a metre of snow in the driveway—and hey, great, it’s the wet, slushy kind that weighs about a squillion pounds per shovelful and lays those of weak heart in their graves. Yay winter!
|A kindly gentleman from the city's snow brigade plows through the drifts, throwing it up the dirty and sand laden slush on to a freshly cleaned sidewalk. And the newly plowed driveway? Let's not go there - because frankly you can't!|
Just when we finally get it cleared—literally, just as we finish clearing it away—the plow pushes a huge drift back in front of the driveway. Thanks for that, buddy! And for the record, that could have been anyone’s snow shovel that flew through the air and struck the window of the plow’s cab. We only ran away because we were in the mood for some exercise.
4. Rationalization - January
Yes January - that endless month, we are told it only has thirty-one days but we know that by some cruel joke in the time continuum it last twice that long - has two stages.
Typically this stage is triggered by an enjoyable day spent outdoors in the glittering sunlight of a January day. We are imbued with the belief that not only can we survive winter, we can learn to love and embrace it. We vow to plan more outings. We settle in for hot chocolate by the fireplace.
We look out the window into the deep black of a winter’s night and we are content . . .
. . . until we realize it’s only 4:35 p.m. Sweet mother of @!%*#. It’s pitch black when we go to work! It’s pitch black when we come home from work! There’s more daylight in Das Boot.
HUMANS WEREN’T MEANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS, BY GOD!
Our stylish leather boots are salt-stained. The legs of our pants are salt-stained. Our will to live is salt-stained, and that’s not even possible. At work, the guy two cubicles over is wearing the same wool sweater for the third time this week. It smells like a wet ferret. And now we smell like a wet ferret. Morning comes and the ice on our windshield is thick, so thick, and we take our scraper and we just hammer on it and hammer on it until we crumble to the driveway, spent and weeping.
Later, at Starbucks, we overhear some cheerful idiot saying the Inuit have dozens of ways of saying “snow.” We tell him we’ve got hundreds of ways of saying, “Shut the $@*# up.” The ensuing conversation with management centres on whether we’re banned from all Starbucks or just this one.
|A typical Ottawa intersection after a gentle white falling of snow has turned it into a slippery, snarled tangle of cars, buses and on the sidelines bundled up, wet, cold snarly people.|
6. Hostility- February
It’s late February. The snowshoes we got for Christmas are still in their box. Communication among family members has devolved to a series of grunts, crude drawings and middle fingers. In this dark moment, a decision is made. The next person who comes up to us and says, “Cold enough for ya?”—we are going to murder that person. Not secretly. Not with any foresight or planning. We are going to reach out with our bare hands and we are going to strangle the life out of that person right then and there, and if anyone tries to get in our way then we are going to murder them as well because we just... can’t..... take it.... anymore!
7. Despair - March
The neighbours are back from their March break in Florida. They’re all tanned and perky, and they sure seem eager to come over and tell us all about it—right up until they spot the barbed wire and land mines. They back away slowly.
But Spring is coming. Dear Lord it must be coming. The nights are becoming shorter, the swish-swush sound of snowsuits is fading from our dreams to be replaced by the faint warbles of birdsong. Our winter nights of despair will be over soon - the sweet buds of April will spring forth and blossom. That is of course unless a late winter blizzard and ice storm doesn't freeze the little suckers to the bough.
That Shakespeare guy wants to see a winter of discontent - let him talk to us sometime around stage 6 - if he dare!
With thanks to my friend David Smith who forwarded the inspiration for this one.
03 December - 1927: Putting Pants on Philip, the first Laurel and Hardy film, is released.