Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday's Words for November 19, 2008

The winds of November have arrived, carrying a preview of the winter to come. At times like these I sit and meditate on that age-old question: why can’t we hibernate like the bears do?

Seriously. I live in Southern Ontario, Canada. On the plus side, my home town is south of all of North Dakota. On the minus side, I live almost dead-center smack dab between two of the Great Lakes – Ontario and Erie. Ever hear the term, “lake effect snow”?

I have arthritis, which means when there are draughts and chilling temperatures, I ache. I live in a house that has more than its fair share of draughts, causing chilling temperatures on a regular basis. Leg warmers are good. Spring is better.

Someone with whom I chat from time to time, a resident of Southern Florida, commented to me just a few days ago that I was lucky to live in an area of the world that had a variety of weather; he, on the other hand, felt that having to put up with 75 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the year was boring. No, he was not being facetious, he was quite serious. His weather bores him.

I wouldn’t mind being that kind of bored. Honest.

Aside from the cold, the other thing I don’t like about winter is that white substance that falls from the sky and makes driving conditions hazardous. My beloved doesn’t drive, so I take him to work, and bring him home again every day. On an average day I drive a total of about 100 miles. That is a lot of driving when the roads are covered in—well, in kaka.

Kaka is white and cold, and can be wet and slippery. Kaka can impair visibility and cake around moving mechanisms, packing solid and freezing, thereby taking moving out of the mechanisms. Kaka has to be shovelled!

Since this season is inevitable, every year I ease myself into acceptance of the fact that the white kaka is coming once more. We’ve already had a couple of days when there were large flakes of it falling from the sky. The first time it happens each year, I point out the window and say in a voice laced with shock and awe, “Wow, look at all that pollen!” It is then the task of my loved ones to tell me—gently, mind you—that the white stuff is not pollen, it is, in fact, snow.

Yes, I know. Snow is pretty. I do enjoy the picture made by snow-dusted evergreen boughs, by gentle rolling meadows of white, the sun shining benevolently, turning the vista golden; or with a bright moon making sparkling and twinkling diamonds of the snow. I do enjoy looking at it. I’d just rather look at it in a photograph.

I know we have to have the white stuff. The farmers need it. They count on the moisture they get from snow to prepare the ground for spring planting. I don’t begrudge the farmers. The crazy people who like to zip around and weave in and out of the landscape on noisy, polluting machines—them, I begrudge. I mean, really. You want outdoor sports, take a walk, or go cross country skiing. Speeding around on a gas-guzzling, carbon-monoxide belching piece of machinery? That, to me, is not sport.

When I was a kid, growing up ‘out in the sticks’, we knew what winter sport was all about. On the other side of the road from our house, an area that was marshy pond in the spring and summer froze in the winter so that you had an ice-skating surface that stretched for nearly a mile. There were areas where you had wide and weed-free ponds—great for playing hockey—and these were connected to each other by narrower channels, where frozen weeds poked their heads up and where you needed to have a care as you navigated on your skates the entire length of the natural skating rink. If you cut over the weeds and weren’t going carefully enough, you ended up face first on the ice. I know, because I had my share of goose-eggs.

Winters past far outshine winters present. Not sure why that is, really, except I suspect my memory has edited out the cold. But as I’m often saying in my essays, everything is a choice, and I want you all to know that even with regard to this season of snow and cold, I chose to take a positive outlook.

In a part of the world where winter can be defined as that space of time from October to March, we’re nearly one third the way through it already.

e-book format AVAILABLE NOVEMBER 20 2008

No comments: