Winter 2013/2014, you can go away now…and I don’t mean that in the nicest way possible! I’ve had enough of all this snow!
Those are my thoughts about this winter so far. “Go away.” As you can see, I am not a big fan of winter but this one, in particular, has me hating it even more. The snow started in mid-December. There was so much of it that I had to invest in winter tires for my car for the first time ever and the snow didn’t stop until a few days ago when it, instead, rained so a lot of all that snow melted and flooded everyone’s basements. Now we have another massive rain storm hitting us later this week and than another snowstorm hitting immediately after it and another storm predicted a few days after that one. Get me a plane headed in a southerly direction and some time off work and I’d be one my way to a hot, sunny climate with white, sandy beaches.
I don’t know why I came to hate winter so much. I loved it as a child. I was always the kid who wanted to be outside building snow forts and tunnels, skating on the pond and downhill skiing. I think I can pinpoint when the hatred might have started. It was during my first winter in St. John’s, Newfoundland…one of the worse winters on record for the province and the worse winter I ever had to endure. Newfoundlander’s are tough when it comes to harsh winters but that winter caught the entire province off guard. Snow started falling in November and didn’t stop until June. There was an average of about 3 storms a week and when it was all said and done, twenty-one feet of snow had fallen that season. Three months into my move, I was ready to pack up and head to the mainland. But I stayed there for another ten years and every year (although the following winters were not as bad) I suffered through towering snow banks in the crowded downtown where there is nowhere to put it except on the roof of your house or on the street.
A few years ago, I tried to embrace winter and make use of it. It comes every year, so why not try to make the best of it. I bought a pair of skates, a pair of snowshoes and a really thick, warm winter jacket with all the cold-weather gear to go with it. I went outside a lot that winter and kind of enjoyed it. But summer came again and I realized how much I love being warm and those winter items went into storage and haven’t come out since.
So based on my overall hatred of winter, you may be surprised to learn that there is one thing I kind of like about the season; blizzards. Yup, that’s right. I enjoy a good ol’ fashioned blizzard. I know this sounds bizarre since blizzards are those storms that create the most havoc but there is just something about a blizzard that makes me liken winter to something warm and fuzzy for lack of a better description!
Imagine the panic that would ensue if an announcement were made announcing a forecoming apocalypse. That is what it is like here when an announcement is made about an approaching blizzard. People racing to get to the supermarket to stock up on food as if they expect to be locked in the house for the next year, lineups at the liquor store so long that they end in the parking lot and traffic backed up as everyone tries to get to the same place at the same time to get dibs on emergency items before they are all gone. I’ve been in the grocery store when they have run out of items. Ice, bottled water and other necessities fly off the shelve and panic follows when people are unable to find what they are looking for even though they probably still have a stockpile of these items at home from when they stocked up in preparation for the last blizzard. I am proud to say that I am not one of these people that spirals into total panic at the word “blizzard”. But I do enjoy visiting the grocery store a few hours before a blizzard hits to get a good chuckle at everyone running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Ironically, there have been times when warnings were put up about an impending blizzard only to wake up the next morning to the sun splitting rocks and not a snowflake to be seen. This has made me come up with a theory; the grocery stores realized how much business they get right before a blizzard and, in cahoots with local radio stations, they fabricate these false blizzard warnings to make an extra profit. Either way, I love the excitement of watching people fall over themselves trying to get that last bottle of water or pack of batteries to add to their growing stockpile of blizzard supplies that they never really use. It’s also funny to see how people’s shopping habits change when they think they are going to be stuck indoors for a while. The usual purchases of fruit, vegetables and healthy meals and snacks turns into cartfuls of junk food and soda. The excuse that is widely used? “Well, if the power goes out, I’m going to need to have some non-perishable goods that don’t require a stove or microwave to make.” Right.
Another thing I love about impending blizzards is the anticipation of work being cancelled! Years ago, I looked forward to school being cancelled, now its work. Nothing like a good ol’ snow day! When the storm is at its peak, I have the radio turned on, the weather network on in the background and websites announcing cancellations at the ready. I sit at the window watching the drifts pile up and the roads get covered. However, that anticipation quickly turns to disappointment if the storm moves off before morning.
As strange as this may sound, my favorite thing about blizzards is when the snow is coming down at is fiercest, the wind is howling at top speed and than the power gest knocked out. I am usually prepared for such as event because it happens a lot here during bad storms. I make sure to have some food that can be easily prepared and fresh water in bottles and containers. There is something about cuddling up with a blanket in front of a freshly lit fire with candles lit around the room and only the sound of the raging storm outside to be heard. Its like going back to another era when there were no lights, electric heat or televisions and being reduced to that once and a while is like a breath of fresh air. You have no choice but to get away from the computer and let the cell phone battery run dry and get out a deck of cards or a boardgame and play by candlelight.
A blizzard is a blizzard no matter where you live but there was something special about blizzards in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Newfoundlander’s are tough when it comes to bad weather, there’s no doubt about but, so I learned when I lived there, a blizzard can quickly turn into a party of sorts, especially if you live in walking distance to George St. and can find the one or two bars that stay open even in the worse kind of weather…and the patrons they did come and they did spend money and had a grand ol’ time while the wind howls outside and the snow piles up. And when the power went out, customers got an extra treat; a live acoustic performance by candlelight performed by whatever band happened to be in the vicinity at the time.
As much as I love a good ol’ fashioned east coast blizzard, there is one thing I hate; the shoveling that inevitably comes with one! But I do love the way the landscape looks under a newly fallen blanket of fresh, white snow. When the winds die down and the snow tapers off, I bundle up and make my way outside to take some pictures and enjoy the view before moving on to inspect the damage and dig out from the freshly fallen snow and ice. I must say, digging out of a snowstorm in Atlantic Canada is one of the best ways to connect with neighbors as everyone comes outdoors to help one another dig out…and swear in unison when the snowplow comes by and dumps more snow to shovel!