“You don’t have to shovel rain.”
I was reminded again this past weekend of my father’s saying after three hours of clearing the accumulated snow fall at the cottage. Some work was self-imposed, shoveling my way to the ice beneath in an annual effort to make a skating rink on the lake. Fortunately, the 200 foot lane is plowed by the neighbour saving one prohibitive task. Carving a pathway to the lake and clearing the stairs to the basement, however, continually tests my aging body. I can see some of your eyes rolling while muttering, “talk to me about a real problem”, to which I produce exhibit A from three weeks earlier at our home.
Toronto received what felt to be a full winter’s equivalent of snow in one day. Add the pile from the sidewalk plow and the road tractors and you have a morning and an afternoon of pushing, lifting and throwing hip’s deep snow piled ever higher. Our dog, Odin, accompanies me on these ventures. He gets his own shovel although he still has not grasped the concept, preferring to gnaw on the handle rather than endure the strain of dragging a load to the side.
Growing up in Southwestern Ontario, I was very familiar with the demands of living within the snowbelt. Shoveling the driveway was an expectation for everyone in the family, starting at a very young age, no slackers allowed.
Our Dad began the day shift at 7:00 am which meant leaving the house at 6:30. If it snowed heavy overnight, Mom would get everyone out of their bed and out onto the driveway at 6:00 am to ensure the car could leave. Then we had to follow the vehicle up the unplowed dead end street, providing the extra push where needed and ensuring the car was able to ram through the tsunami wave of snow onto the highway. The plow eventually cleared the street leaving enough to cover the gravel road, all ready for us road hockey warriors.
I don’t recall being hindered by the snow. The cost of downhill skiing and organized hockey eliminated our participation. We found other avenues: tobogganing, forts for snowball fights, backyard ice rinks, or trudging to the frozen creek. The latter two activities meant work in preparation, warming us up for the fun itself.
“There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” or simply relying on the advantages of youth to ward off the cold. We aren’t young anymore so attitude and a warm attire have become our saviours. Olga and I woke to -27 C yesterday morning and proceeded to don our snow pants and assorted seasonal accoutrements to embark on Odin’s daily constitutional. The air was clean and fresh, the sun was shining. It was glorious. Last night was peaceful and calm as Olga and I followed the cottage road without a flashlight, led only by the brightness of a full moon on the white snow, kept company by the crunching beneath our feet. At one point we stopped and drank in the silence, gazing at the constellations. Today I skated on my ice rink, stick handling around Odin, raising my arms in jubilation after an imagined goal. We ended the day relaxed on the bench, quietly breathing in the beauty of the lake.
Forecast for Thursday: plus 6 and rain.