Sunday, March 16, 2014

Winter Woes!

 Yesterday, we had a giant wind-blowing snowstorm that dumped several inches of the “white stuff” on edifices...retail plazas...home properties.  Hundreds of accidents occurred along the QEW between here and Niagara Falls; several trucks jack-knifed along the major 401 and the northbound 400.  Visibility became zilch...with sudden white-outs..along these busy traffic routes.  My marshmallow balcony was a sight to behold!  Today, I believe Mother Nature regrets the dilemma she created!  Today she sends us her golden sun pouring rays upon the laden tree branches, the snowbanks and weird snow formations.  Today, the temperature is near the freezing point...lessened wind...despite the Arctic cold night.  Today I viewed a couple skiers along,  what in summer,  is a nearby bike trail.

This morning I received a card from a long-time teacher-friend in Kitchener who wrote, “This has been a difficult winter for everyone.  I've managed to bang up my car trying to get out of my driveway which was reduced to a tunnel of snow ice...and then attempting to turn onto the one-way street narrowed by frozen hard-pack  snow drifts on the center boulevard. Eagerly I wait for this ton of snow to melt!”

Stubborn Winter Strikes Again!  This Winter is So Bad...
 The Spec recorded these Twitter comments:

This winter is so bad...I'm going to hug the mail carrier  when he arrives with the first A/C bill.
This winter is so bad...spending March Break in Winnipeg is starting to sound good.
This winter is so bad...that Toronto didn't bother with the army, and went straight to the comedians.
This winter is so bad...GTHA residents actually remember we're in Canada, EH! 
This winter is so bad...that even Frosty the Snowman is 'crying Uncle'! 
This winter is so bad...that I've had to use table salt to melt ice.
This winter is so bad...Canadians are falling in love with the politicians...for the hot air!
This winter is so bad...the snowman in my back yard turns 5 months old today! 
This winter is so bad...that Disney just released a new animated movie called Thaw featuring the hit song, Enough Already,  by Adele.  
This winter is so bad...Wait, we're in Canada and we're Winter People!  In a few months, it will be Too Hot...then we'll say, “Bring on Winter!”

I'm No Wimp, But I Don't Rip My Boots Off With My Teeth
(not like Darcy, who fancies he's a husky).
(excerpts from a writing by Jeff Mahoney, journalist with the Spectator)

I was out walking the dog Tuesday morning and I'm not sure what the temperature or the chill factor was.  But let me put it this way for a brief moment.  I swear I could hear the frigid wind like an undertone...the Arctic death cries of the Franklin expedition from 160 years ago.

“This is not good, Darcy,” I said out loud...though the words were muffled by three wraps of a scarf around my mouth.  “I hear dead people...across the seas of time.”

Darcy, a loveable black and brown brindle terrier with a shaggy coat, was busy spearing his snout into a sloping cheek of starched snow banked up on a neighbour's lawn. When my voice interrupted his happy frolic, he popped up his snow-bearded-face and tilted his head inquiringly.  Even the cloud of his exhaled breath seemed to have a buoyancy to it, as if it was full of fabric softener.  The colder it gets, the better he likes it!  “Let's go home,” I prompted, “I don't want search parties to have to chip us out of the ice like a bag of peas at the back of the freezer.”  Darcy barked and pivoted, digging in. “For the  love of fire hydrants,” I grumbled, defeated.  We trekked on.

Tolerance to such temperatures, like one's capacity for alcohol, is a fundamentally subjective thing.  I  hate the cold!  But growing up in Montreal and working in my youth at the 50th parallel in Cochrane, Ontario, a ping-pong serve from James Bay...and now footman to a terrier who thinks he's a Husky, I've had to make my uneasy peace with winter.

Are we turning into cold weather wimps?  I don't think so. It's a case-by-case basis kind of thing.  Some people like cold...others never will.  My girls are always bucking for a drive to school when it gets bad.  I told them they should be grateful; tens of thousands of years ago, this part of the country was buried under glaciers a mile thick.  How would they like walking to school in that? Mile thick glaciation?  .  For young people of a certain age, this might be the first year in which they're experiencing the full brunt of a traditional Canadian winter.

It was so frigid yesterday, water mains were breaking.  Stores were sold out of salt, even though salt, apparently, is not effective below -20 degrees. Knowing this was coming, I broke down on the weekend and finally got boots for Darcy.  I tried to put them on.  He looked puzzled, as you might if a terrier came along and put prosthetic dog claws on your hands so you could actually do something useful with them, like dig a chipmunk out of its hole.

Outside, it took him all of 10 minutes to work the Velcro back, open with his teeth and start shaking them off.  Shoeless Joe!  He'd doing fine without them.

Now, it's me and the water pipes I'm worried about.  I don't think I'm a wimp, but seeing as there's nothing else in my power that I can think to do, I'm kneeling by the furnace, reciting from the Enbridge  Energy Book of Daily Devotions.

When the glacier sees the Spring ~ it weeps.  (Norwegian Proverb)

Positive Spin on Winter!
(excerpts from an article by Mark McNeil at the Spectator)

Biologists, harbour rehabilitators and flood watchers say the frigid and snowy winter we've been having will cause all kinds of strange events this spring.  According to the Hamilton Conservation Authority, the good news is that the tough Canadian-style winter has likely been hard on invasive species. Nasty bugs such as gypsy moth and emerald ash borer could be less prevalent this summer.  Even the mosquito populations could be down.  McMaster University biologist says, “Native species have thousands of years of experience dealing with tough winters; invasive species do not.  That goes for flora and fauna.”

Water levels on the Great Lakes are expected to rise 30 centimetres this spring which is good news because recent years have seen levels dangerously low.  The problem is gushing water happening all at once in a frenzy of melting snow and ice.

The Royal Botanical Garden's head of  natural lands states, “The deep freeze has turned Cootes Paradise into nearly solid ice that has pushed fish and other water life out of the marsh for the winter.  That's good because carp cause all kinds of problems stirring up the bottom and killing plant life.  The carp barrier will prevent their return to Cootes Paradise in the spring.

The writer, from an episode of TV’s Northern Exposure, stated,
“LIFE is spontaneous and it is unpredictable;  it is magical.”

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...March 13, 2014
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