That’s right. I am Canadian, overly familiar with brutal winters and major snowfall. If someone had told me when I moved from Canada to south of the Mason-Dixon line in the United States that I would experience the worst winter I had ever seen here, I would never have believed it.
But guess what? This is the worst winter I have ever seen.
Allow me to give you a little rundown of the past week, and the thoughts that were going through my mind.
Friday afternoon: Hey, it’s mild! The snow is starting to fall, but they’re big, fluffy flakes just gently swirling to the ground and they aren’t sticking. No way are we going to get 30 inches. The weather forecasters are bananas!
Friday night: Hmmm. It does seem to be sticking a bit now, but there’s no WAY we are going to get 30 inches. The weather forecasters had it ALL WRONG! I am going to go to bed and when I wake up, we are talking a minor shovelling event. It’ll take me 20 minutes.
Saturday morning: Holy shit, 30 inches of snow have fallen. The doors have yard-high drifts up against them. I can no longer see my back fence. I can no longer see my front walk, my driveway, or my street. It is just one vast snowfield with houses sticking out. Holy shit, 30 inches of snow has fallen. The weather forecasters were right.
Saturday afternoon: Holy shit, those sweet wet gentle flakes I thought weren’t sticking have stuck and formed a foot of slushy, heavy muck underneath the two feet of fluffy snow. Shovelling this shit is a serious ordeal. This is going to take me hours if I do my front walk and the walks of all my helpless elderly neighbours, who are frightened and calling me. Apparently, because I am Canadian, I am now the Winter Expert.
Saturday evening: Holy shit, I am exhausted. I cannot believe I shovelled that concrete off my walk, and three of my neighbour’s. I need a drink, a hot bath and a massage. I have pulled a groin muscle. Thank God the county plow teams will soon be arriving to remove the chest-high accumulations in the streets. One of the elderly neighbours has offered to drive to the hardware/grocery store to pick up supplies for all of us. I need painkillers and a heating pad and a whole shitload of booze.
Sunday: Hmmm. Where are the county plows?
Monday: Ummmm … where are the county plows?
Tuesday morning: EXCUSE ME??!??! Are they going to plow this shit? People can’t walk a mile in waist-high snow to get supplies!! What is this, 1890?? Am I Laura Ingalls? What the fuck?
Tuesday noon: Oh look! A neighborhood Good Samaritan is using his own snow-blower to blow out out entire street, all the way to a major thoroughfare that is open and clear. Praise Dolly! Off we go to pick up neighborhood supplies.
Tuesday afternoon, an our later: Man arrives! He’s digging out my driveway! He is helping the Snowblowing Hero! I haven’t seen him in days and he looks hot! And he has a suntan from his business trip! Hello, hotness!
Tuesday night: Ummm. It seems to be snowing again. And the wind is literally howling. Time to go to sleep while spooning and gazing out my bedroom window at the crazy-ass storm.
Wednesday morning: HOLY SHIT! Where are we, in North Dakota? It is a blinding, howling blizzard! The driving snow is blowing horizontally at 50 miles an hour. I cannot see across the street. Major tree limbs, and entire trees, are apparently coming down all over the place. I AM Laura Ingalls!!! I am going to bake a pie. If I had a barn, I would use a rope to guide my way to the barn to milk the cows. I guess I will darn the men’s socks as I sit by the fire and wait out the blizzard. I guess I could churn some butter.
Wednesday night: The winds finally subside slightly, the snow eases up. But we have run out of wine. I post a message to the neighbourhood listserv entitled: “Booze.” I mention that I need some and I will trudge through the drifts to come buy a couple of bottles. I am soon inundated with dozens of offers, including from lovely people just three houses away. Life is slowly improving.
Thursday morning/afternoon: More all-day shovelling. There is now another foot on top of the three feet that were already on the ground. Deathly icicles the size of human beings must be smashed from rain gutters. Fun but exhausting times!
Friday morning: Bright and sunny. The drifts begin to shrink. Instead of being over my head in places, they are now at my shoulders. I can see my boob-high back fence again. We drive into the city … it is glittering and brilliant and beautiful, covered in snow. We feel liberated.
Just one problem, however: More snow is forecast for Monday.
And if I may bitch: Hey, Canadians, piss off with all your e-mails about what babies we are. A metre of snow in four days? And no one comes to plow it for days? That doesn’t happen in Canada. You might get that kind of snow, but plows show up to remove it in a hurry because they budget for that kind of snowfall every winter and they have the equipment and the manpower. Try to imagine not being able to leave your house for four or five days, or even to go out for a walk because of the height of the drifts. Imagine what would happen to a city like Montreal if the vast majority of the streets weren’t plowed f0r days after a huge snowfall. Yes, now you have an idea of what it’s been like. So bite me!