Late November. The whole world is still carefully moving along. Citizens everywhere masked up to try their best to dodge the invisible bug.
It’s a strange world that this has become. Where absolutes seem to be replacing approximates. Where the things we worried about were just a few short months ago, are hardly even thought about now.
The first snowfall this season. Not even a centimetre where I live but it was enough to tell me winter is on the way. That’s OK though. There are very few places I need to go, and with the Plague and all, very few places I actually want to go.
Waiters in masks drop our restaurant dinners in the back seat of the van. Cashiers in stores wipe down their counter after every checkout. People around here get serious stink eye if they aren’t wearing a mask and wearing it properly. My wife has a glove she wears when she’s buying gas and wipes down her credit card when she’s done. The kids have put their kids in school and that’s the end of family dinners for a while. And so it goes.
The first snowfall limits me a bit in my $10,000 wheelchair, which you are not supposed to expose to the rain or snow. But there will be a certain amount of cheating on that score, I am sure.
I am using the winter to teach myself how to walk again after spinal surgery. Some days are better than others. This is no predicament for an A-type personality. You spend a lot of time forcing yourself to go slow. Inches instead of feet. A little progress every week, as opposed to every day. Setbacks galore. And the drain on your energy is fierce.
But you muddle through. Because this is the only life you have, that you know of, and you try and make the most of it.
Maybe the first snowfall will help me slow down my expectations to something more realistic.
The first snowfall used to be exciting when I was a kid. It meant we were close to being able to start building a hockey rink and freeze our asses off for the sake of the great Canadian pastime.
The first snowfall meant hopping cars on Jennette Street, which had a good place to hide. We would ride those cars as far as we could, and do it all day long. Cars all had chrome bumpers back then that you could grab onto. Not sure if hopping cars would be as much fun today, with all the moulded bumpers and such.
It also meant earning extra money shoveling snow from the driveways of the old folks and the lazy ones. And being invited in for hot chocolate where you were regaled with stories of winters in Fort Erie from times way before you were born. Funny how that shoveling never seemed to be a chore when you were getting paid for it.
The first snowfall meant sledding and tobogganing at the Sugar Bowl down the street. Funny how that hill seemed so steep back then. Driving by it now, it doesn’t seem like any big deal of a slope at all. But perspectives change with age.
The first snowfall meant the beginning of skating and hockey at the arena. I was a goalie. Played against Bobby Orr one time. He scored 5 goals on me, and I’m sure he was being merciful. I did better at skating, where romances blossomed and exploded, mostly in that order.
The first snowfall ushered in the winter, and one of the most spectacular things about it where I grew up, were the gusts that swept across Lake Erie and made spectacular waves and ice formations. There were places along the lake that would keep you out of the wind, but give you a front-row seat for some of the most incredible displays of nature’s fury that I had ever seen. Funny how we could sit there and watch this for hours and never feel afraid, just awestruck.
As we grow, the first snowfall slowly assumes a different meaning. It means the beginning of winter, with cold days and nights, seemingly incessant grey skies, snow, of course, in copious amounts, all of which have to be pushed around, something I am no longer allowed to do.
In the greater scheme of things, the first snowfall is all the more tolerable if you take your mind back to the time when it heralded a season that you loved as opposed to however you feel about it now.
Image courtesy of Dave Sanford Photography