Hump Day: The snowy season brings stress and silliness

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

It’s November. November! Just a few weeks ago, we went through an October heat wave. And on Sunday – kaboom! Snow!

At least my dog loved it. I only got her in May, so I wasn’t sure how she’d like the snow. She’s pretty close to the ground, so I thought she’d mind the cold, but she apparently didn’t! She ran around and played, leaping through the air like a reindeer. Actually, she reminded me of Max the dog on How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

The first big storm usually arrives in November. People expect it then, though. There’s bound to be something. But October? Not so much. This is more of a shock.

Kids run outside to make snowmen… errr… snowwomen… errr… snowindividuals. What’s politically correct these days? Snowunits? Snowfigures? Whatever.

People complain online and in the stores. The first snow means that winter is on its way – with its higher heating bills, shorter days and the loss of a bit of freedom for those with limited mobility. Snow is not a friend to many.

Travel freedom is also curtailed. Instead of just hopping in the car and driving somewhere for the weekend, it becomes imperative to check the forecast to ensure you won’t get stuck in snow and found a few months later when everything melts. Oh, you’ve personally survived just fine… but the friend you were with? Well, they turned out to be quite delicious, actually. Stranded people gotta eat, don’t ya know.

And then there are the drivers – like me and most of us, I think – who don’t have their snow tires on yet. Ahhhh… that’s always fun. Can there be anything more annoying than having to learn how to drive in the snow again? Every year, I tend to forget how to “winter drive” until the first teeth-clenching pray-out-loud-to-God skidding incident that has you nearly taking out a group of nuns walking to mass. (Insert “bad habit” joke here.)

After the first skid of the winter driving season, I usually thank everything that is holy that I didn’t hit anything and then decide to make an appointment to get my winter tires installed. I believe in having winter tires. Very important.

And having to brush the car off again – how annoying is that? Gone are the summer days of just hopping in the car and going. From now until next spring, it’s scraping and brushing almost daily and running the car to clear up foggy windows so you can see the cars you’re skidding into. It’s also polite to wave before you smash their bumper, I hear. We Canadian winter drivers are a very nice bunch.

If you’re like me and have a garage – well, guess what! Lawn-care equipment took over the garage over the summer, right? No need to park in the garage from May to October, after all? The first sign of winter causes a mad dash to make room for the car just in case the guy (or gal) you hired to plow your driveway comes.

I did that this past Sunday when I saw that the snow wasn’t stopping. I cleared out the garage during the height of the storm and drove the car in. I have a weird driveway, too, because I have to manoeuvre my car around my back steps to get in or out of my garage. The first attempt of the year usually involves a few stops and starts. By April, I’ll have that sucker down pat and will be backing up blindfolded.

Now that I work from my home office, I don’t even get a snow day anymore. I remember my school days so well. We’d wait by the radio to hear the announcer say our school district number and then settle in for a day of watching television and making sure to shovel the driveway before my father got home or risk getting growled at. My brother and I would usually end up fighting. Not exactly a news bulletin back then.

We’d also listen to Dave Lockhart’s Talk Back show on CKCW Radio. When school was cancelled, he’d sometimes change the topic for that day to kids’ jokes – so we would try to call in and tell a joke. I honestly can’t remember if we ever got through, but it was certainly a thrill for those who did.

This was all before YouTube or personal online radio stations that allow you to be your own disc jockey. Today, anyone can be a broadcaster. This was also the era of only a tiny handful of radio stations broadcasting in the area. Today, there are many more, so the audience is diluted quite a bit.

Remember when they would actually deliver milk? Do they even do that anymore? Ah, those winter days when we’d open the back door to find the milk frozen solid and the square glass bottle broken. Those were not good days – especially with three kids at home all wanting cereal in the morning.

Out of things I really love about the winter, the smell of a freezing cold newspaper is one of them. I know that’s sounds strange… but I really like the smell and feel of an ice-cold newspaper. (That would explain my black nose on winter days.)

And then there’s just relaxing on the sofa watching the snow fall outside. During a storm, especially, there’s just not much more we can do, right?

In this crazy world of demands and deadlines, I welcome those days ahead when the only thing I see outside is the snow falling on a peaceful, quiet street.

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