Tag Archives: snow


images-12We’re waiting for another nor’easter to blow its way up the coast. In houses all over New England and the Maritimes, children are lying, breathless, under their sheets, waiting for the sound of snow.

The silent stealthy steps of snowflakes, tiptoeing around the house. The grumbling of snow plows scraping  the streets. The unusual quiet of cars as they hover past on cushioned tires.

I remember those mornings. I’d turn on my AM radio to WRKO, trying to hear school cancellations between the morning chatter and pop tunes. I lived in Winchester, so I’d try to stay awake as they ran through all the school districts but I’d invariably fall asleep waiting for our town’s announcement and have to start over through the A’s and on.

I did it again when my kids were little. I’d have CBC on this time, trying to hear the announcement of cancellations, listening for the howling of the wind, the sound of shovels. If school was cancelled, I could grab another half-hour’s sleep, the kids would be happy, we’d all hang around in jammies all day. They’d watch too much television, we’d have creative snacks, the day would creep by in delicious slo-mo.

If there wasn’t an announcement, I’d have to spring into super action, sort out where all the warm clothes were, clear off the steps, maybe shovel the drive, especially if I had to drive them to school.

So I’d lie there, rigid, not sure if I could relax or if I had to leap out of bed. Listening. Trying not to fall asleep. Listening so hard my ears nearly grew.

I loved snow days, as a kid and an adult. I still love them. Tomorrow, I expect we’ll be sheathed in swaths of powdery snow. Here in the Maritimes, we have a day or two of  mess, and then it melts off, so the kids here have to run out when they can and make big big snowmen to persist through the melting. I hope they get a day off, though I know it’s tough on parents. Snow days are one of those most magical things about childhood. A gift from Mother Nature or Jack Frost.

Happy nor’easter, and may your power ever burn bright…

I’ve got a bunch of good books and a warm cat. Perfect.

Midnight on a snowy evening…

There’s something about midnight on a snowy night. Sounds are muffled, few cars are on the road, the plows have already been by and their flashing lights have spun out across the snow.
It’s quiet in my suburban apartment. Too quiet. I can hear the ticking of all the clocks in the apartment, the slight twanging of the heaters.
At times like this, the idea of having another breathing body in this space is enchanting. I miss hearing someone else inhaling and exhaling. I miss curling up in bed with someone, breathing the same air, touching them on the hand or overlapping legs or curling around them. I miss going to bed with someone, having the last laugh of the day together, getting and giving a goodnight kiss.
Of course, that’s the good stuff. After all that, there’s often the snoring (his and mine), the too hot body next to mine, the lack of sprawling space.
I’ve chosen this life, for a bunch of reasons. I’m used to it; I cherish my solitude. Not that I’d never give it up, for the right person…maybe…
There’s this wonderful song that has a line in it : “if she knew what she wants, he’d be giving it to her”. I’ve probably never known what I wanted. I think I want it all – a loving relationship, my own space, enjoyable sex, a bed to myself, someone to laugh with, someone to be quiet with.
It should be possible, right?
Meanwhile I sit here, alone, listening to the ticking, not lonely, not sad, but a wee bit wistful.

Migods, it’s cold out there!

It is COLD outside.  The kind of cold that tastes like you have an icicle between your teeth and are breathing through it.  The kind of cold that dries your eyeballs when the wind blows (“it’s a DRY cold”), chaps your cheeks, makes you wish you’d brought that scarf, too, to wrap around any remaining skin.  It whistles up your pants legs, chews its way through the fabric, insinuates itself through your hat and hair.

It’s the kind of cold that makes me gasp when walking – especially as the wind grabs my face and whips it around. Everyone else is gasping, too, faces screwed up against the wind, no smiles today else teeth freeze.

Ice crystals are creeping up my windows…

Chutney, fluffy hound of great enthusiasm, has been feeling a bit down lately.  His fur is long, and he finds an apartment at temperatures suitable for me a bit warm, wearying. He keeps asking to go out on the balcony to eat snow. I daren’t leave him out there since the wind is howling and might blow his little self away, so I take him out for a walk.

It’s gotta be puppy love. I can barely stand the bitter wind and him, he is jumping in and out of the snowbanks, slurping up the crystalline snow with his tongue, exploding with joy.  He scoops up  piles of snow with his nose, leaps in over his head and pops out, lingers as the wind rearranges his fur in sealike patterns. He snuffles for smells beneath the frost, digs, ignores the wind.  He’s not even wearing his little embarrassing coat or his booties.

Around me, the walking frozen people stop, watch him, and laugh.  Sudden fierce joy is so wonderful to see. They smile at me, lips pale and at risk of cracking.  Then they shuffle on. Chutney doesn’t notice them.  He is having way too much fun.

Winter and the feeling of impending doom

They are threatening a “snowpocalypse” today throughout North America – a huge storm spanning from Texas to Nova Scotia, throwing fistfuls of snow and spitting ice on everyone in-between. Everyone is talking in breathless tones on the weather channels, speaking of disaster warnings and the need for shelters and calling out the National Guard. On the weather channel today, a man in Oklahoma stood in a full inch of snow talking about how all the public buildings were shut down in this disastrous storm.

When I was a kid, I don’t remember this total sense of panic about big storms. Maybe it existed and I just wasn’t clued in, but I can’t help but think that part of this is the inflation of news hysteria.  As a weather broadcaster, these are the things you live for – the moments where you might make the main news broadcast instead of just the weather at the end of the news, after everyone has dozed off.  So the weather becomes hyped to the max, creating panic. It’s the only time the weather broadcast can out hype war reporting or political squabbles.

I read somewhere on Facebook about how they really wanted to read that bookstores were mobbed in preparation for the storm. It’s a lovely thought.  What if, instead of panicking, we all just settled in and appreciated winter’s might, its beauty, the roar of a fire, and the opportunity to slow down and read a book, talk to one another, play a board game by candlelight, hold each other. Yes, I’m not denying that the weather can be dangerous, and there’s a need to protect those without appropriate heating and support, but a lot of the danger would be minimized if we just stayed home and relaxed into the storm. Roads would be safer, there’d be a smaller demand on infrastructure, we could all calm down.

But calmness doesn’t work on the news.  So weather reporters get more and more hysterical as the storm approaches.  Everyone races out to buy enough food for a month. And no one seems to cancel anything, as if everything we are doing is totally important – children have to go to practices, school just can’t be missed, work can’t rest for a day. And yet, if we paused everything, it might just be okay.

And maybe we could all read a book.  And how lovely would that be?

Brrr….or where is that global warming we keep hearing about?

I just took the fearless doggums out for a walk in the cold and the blowing snow and the ice and the wind chill. Him: 6 lbs of roughly furry dog, barely 3 inches above ground level, wearing a smallish coat that covers some of his body. Me: Boots, winter coat over heavy sweater, tuque, hood, thermogloves. I was cold.  He was overcome with the joy of being outside and able to catch up on all the news sprayed on every pole and dug into every hole, delighted with the highlighting of squirrels (black) against the white, chasing leaves left behind in fall’s bluster. I couldn’t help but admire the guy.  Right now he’s licking the ice off of his tummy fur, happy as any dog can be.

It always baffles me how we Canadians universally complain about temperatures of -5 C with wind chills of -11 C at this time of the year, yet wear shorts and t-shirts when these same temperatures appear in the spring. Maybe there is something to that “blood thickening” thing. Maybe the months of poutine eaten to forestall the cold add an extra layer that warms us. Maybe we are just so damn desperate to get outside by spring we love anything that smacks of fresh air. But every year, it’s the same.

Other winter things that happen every year:

– people forget how to drive in the snow.  Crashes abound. Everyone forgets how to clear snow off their cars.  Crashes abound.

– some group of idiots take their snowmobiles out onto the ice before it is thick enough, crash through and drown.  This is repeated in the spring.

– Everyone gets on their “winter faces” – eyes squinched shut, teeth gritted under sealed-tight lips, face tilted down and shoulders shrugging away the wind. No one smiles. It’s like we’ve all been totally botoxed. Mind you, in the Prairies, if you smile, your teeth crack.  But that’s when it is -40.

– Everyone in Ottawa starts watching the canal reports for opening day, crossing fingers it will be mystically soon while the weather stays balmy – impossible, but we can dream, eh?

– Snow reports become the most important part of the news. The Weather channel ratings climb.

– People start talking about “a dry cold”….when we lived in the Prairies, it was so cold that your breath would crystallize as it left your mouth, falling like diamonds onto the ground below. When it’s -40, the air can’t hold water.  It is always a dry cold then. Snow evaporates. Here in Ontario, we should be so lucky.  We get the damp cold.  The Maritimes get the wringing wet cold. It’s all ever so slightly different on the body.

But slowly, slowly, we start to adapt. So that when spring comes and we’re back to “only -5!”, we fling open our windows and revel in what we now reject.