Thursday, 5 December 2013

Welcome to Winter!

Well, you now have my permission to believe every stereotype about Canadian winters you've heard. A blizzard passed through town on Monday, dumped three or four feet of snow (unevenly, mind you) and went on its way, leaving chaos behind. It's taking two hours to get to work and two hours to get home. Thank goodness a delicious beef roast waited in the slow cooker on Monday, because we've been nibbling away on that all week. Tonight it's going to "feel like" -39 C. This is not a time for the furnace to fail either :-D

 That north west wind goes where it wants! Source: Gord Gilles

The blizzard reminded me that I should get a move on and finish a story I'm working on for the next batch of stories. It's tentatively titled "A Cold, Cold Country". It's based on my experience during a flash spring ice storm that I was ill prepared for. The storm came in so fast that the street I was walking on turned into ice instantly and visibility was poor. Naturally I was walking because twenty minutes earlier the bus I was on had become stuck at the top of the hill. Three years later, I can't remember what made me walk to find another bus route - it was a foolish decision because I lacked winter clothing and the neighbourhood had almost no stores or restaurants. Almost none, except for a little pizza joint where I waited six hours for Mr. Potenti to come pick me up. If I recall right, a half hour drive took him almost four hours due to accidents. Anything is possible when Mother Nature has a mood swing.

The freshness of the memory has come back every night that I wait for a bus that doesn't come, and trudge home in the dark. Last night I couldn't get a bus into my neighbourhood. Normally it's a quick little walk from the main drag to our house, but it was agonizing as my feet plunged into the soft snow. Ice crystals stung my face as I was forced to walk into the wind. Every moment was excruciating because my fingers froze despite warm, double lined gloves. Once inside I stripped everything off and made some tea, stat!

Drifts are deeper than they appear...this goes up to my knee!

Winter is really no joke in Canada. My granny's first husband succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning when his truck became stuck in a snow bank way back in the 1960s. This knowledge forever colours how I perceive winter, because all it takes is a slick road or forgotten house keys to get into real trouble. It's said by literary scholars that Canadians have a garrison mentality "that fears the emptiness of the Canadian landscape". When you're in the middle of nowhere, with snow drifts making every feature and landmark indistinguishable, nothing but purple sky all around - that fear becomes very real. Now I just need to put all those things into a finished story :-)