It’s raining today. It’s February 16. There’s something terribly wrong with the proximity of those two statements. It’s not supposed to rain in February in Ontario! From the window, I see an expanse of dead brown grass with flat, thin snow patches that grow smaller by the minute. Spiky, skeletal branches and slick rocks stick up through the snow. The windows are coated in rain.
Last year was my first winter in this little town on the shores of Lake Huron and people warned me about how much snow there would be. Coming originally from another area of the province also known for its cold and snowy winters, I didn’t take their warnings too seriously. But when winter hit at the end of November, I was left stunned. Never before in my life had I experienced such a massive quantity of snow and such strong winds that forced entire highways to close for days on end!
We were living in a rental house with a very long driveway and my brilliant plan to shovel the whole thing couldn’t have been worse. That only lasted for half of December, at which point we had been walloped with so many snowstorms that shoveling three or four times a day wasn’t enough. My husband would wake up at 5 am to clear the driveway before work, then I’d head out again at 8 am because the snowplow had gone down the road and kindly left a four-foot snowbank for me to clear. (Repeat throughout the day.) We hired someone with a tractor to dig us out!
This year, there’s just no snow! Instead, miserable cold rain and frigid whipping wind define the winter days, and there’s nothing redeeming about that. Snow at least offers something to enjoy, despite the extra work. I love those typical February days when the temperature is -20 Celsius and the sky is deep blue and the sun is toasty warm on my face. It’s perfect for a day on the ice rink or a brisk hike down a country road that’s been plowed and sanded.
Few things are as satisfying as snowshoeing through the forest in the late afternoon, when the sky is orange-pink and the naked trees are black silhouettes. Coming back into a warm house with my cheeks stinging, scarf iced from my breath, and eyes watering is so satisfying. I feel as though I’ve honoured the day, made use of it, benefited from it. It’s a wonderful feeling!
But now, here, winter is simply dreary and gray. What little snow there is makes it hard to push a stroller, yet there’s too little for a sled. I’m left not knowing how to get outside with two kids because the season is undefined. Sometimes the toddler plays in his sandbox while I sit nearby, holding the baby wrapped in a quilt, but it’s too cold for that to last long. I’m feeling ripped off. Maybe it’s some sort of divine vengeance for all the complaining we do about real winter when it’s here! If so, the lesson has been learned. I’m actually praying for winter snows to come – and that’s a first! Is anyone else feeling as cheated of winter as I am??