This morning, I decided that there is a very good reason I hate winter! It takes up too much time! Because I am getting older, I can't afford to waste time, therefore, Winter is screwing me out of "life"time.
Growing up in a community that would receive the Guinness World record snow falls, I can't remember hating the season. Back in the "old" days shoveling snow, usually meant money. Money is good! I had to shovel at home for free, but there were always some jobs, even..the very best shoveling job, the school roof, that one could get a nice clump of change from. Shoveling the school roof was a two-fold bargain, first, no school, second, getting good money to spend time with friends saving the school from collapse. Geez, we were pretty damn important, without our hard work, the whole building would be destroyed,,,oh for goodness sakes..were we idiots? If none of us had been so desperate for money, the school would be buried under a mountain of snow, and we would have all be sleeping in the whole winter! I suppose that is silly, they would have found someone else, but, we still felt pretty important! Another job we had, was shoveling the snow away from the house windows, so that there would be some light in the house.Most homes had peaked metal roofs, with a four foot snowfall over night, then a few days of rain, the snow would start to slide. Laying in bed, in the silence of a tiny town, all noise seemed loud, and the snow inching it's way down the roof, was a common sound in the dark. Sometimes you would listen and hear it finally |give" as it slid off, but most of the time it was just the "ounching" as it moved ever so slowly. At some point all of that snow would come off, and because there would be another 4-5 feet on the ground, it would sort of hang in the air along side of the house walls,making each home a tunnel. That would be when my Mom would send us out to clear the windows. Now, one trick I was taught, never clear the snow from around the bottom of the house. That was insulation. The snow had to be carefully moved away from the house, and...one had to watch that they did not break the stuff (very heavy, wet snow) so it slid and hit the window. After this job was done, we could enjoy day-light indoors until the next big dump. As children, we would constantly be soaking wet in winter. My feet would be prunes from December on. My winter boots were never dry, always a plastic bag inside, to allow me a few moments of dry socks, to begin. We would be bundled up in snow pants, and jackets and mittens. Wool mittens..ah..they were nice, but...our snow was just not the type for woolen mittens. The stuff was very wet, perfect for snow balls, and snowmen, but, within a short period, those mittens would weigh 5 pounds a piece soaking wet, and off they would come, bare hands were the "norm". Because of the large amounts of snow, it wasn't just our hands and feet that got soaked, we would be wringing wet right up to our armpits. But....never, ever cold!
Back in the day, I always had a job of some sorts. I was lucky enough to be able to purchase an awesome snowmobile. I remember it vividly, it was such a pretty blue, and the name of the machine was |Scorpion". Now this was a brand new company, a couple of the guys I hung out with bought the bigger machines, I got myself the "girlie" sized one. This machine allowed me some of the most incredible times in my memories. It also...now I bet lots of you folks will wish you lived back in these times..allowed me to drive to work. Yep, snowmobiling on the roads in my home town was legal. I would get up, get dressed in my CIBC burgundy pant suit, pull my snowmobile suit on over top, fire up the Scorpion, and whip on down to the bank, where I parked on the sidewalk, and spent my day with my old fashioned posting machine. All day, I would know that when work was done, I could rush out, jump on my beloved machine, and head over to the bar for a couple of drinks, and then home to change, only to run back out, and spend hours in the pitch dark, racing about back roads with a bunch of friends, and then..maybe another few drinks before calling it a night. That machine took me on to Glaciers, and snow slides, and behind mountains,on top of mountains,places no one could ever get to in the summer, it was a time of total awesome! The sights I was privy to on this machine were unforgettable. The best part, spending time with a group of friends that were just as thrilled to do the same thing. I have the pictures which of course were taken back in the 70's so not near as crystal clear as photos now, but..each one can take me back to a special time, one that was filled with laughter, and unforgettable characters.
Now, well, I do have to shovel. I have to shovel when the highways decides to blade the road in front of my house,pushing 1/2 a block of ice and snow into my driveway, usually just before I arrive home at lunch.My honey saw fit to buy me a snowblower,this year, to assist in snow removal, however,the machine does not like to go through the large clumps of frozen crap that is piled at the entrance of the driveway. My windows do not get covered with large dumps of snow, but..I have two decks now that must be cleared off, when the sh*t becomes too heavy. The main issue, is the flipping cold! Now, growing up, we got tons of snow, but, it was only cold (and by that, just into the minuses) for a few days. Here, it can be -30, and.....it is snowing!!!WTF????? Hey, my boots are never really wet, because I can't allow that, I would get frost bite. I have had my ears burnt in the middle of winter, trying to shovel my driveway. Not sunburnt, burnt by the cold and the wind. My feet are never prunes, nope, instead they are dried cracked appendages, that sting and bleed. My hands are like brillo pads, try putting a sheet of fabric softener in the garbage..hah!! the thing will not come off my hand, worse if I step on it in the laundry room, with bare feet, it will stay on my foot until I sit down and wrench it off. I hate fabric softener sheets!!
Winter is also a time to attempt to conserve on utility bills. As a young child, we had a tiny oil stove in the dining room that was what kept us warm through the winter. I guess all that snow, insulated the house, because I can't remember waking up freezing. However, here..Hah! We would have to live in one bedroom to survive with that tiny stove. Each gas bill will arrive, and throw me into shock. Yes, we are able to claim 50% of the Northern living allowance on our income tax, however, this does not come anywhere near close to compensating for the extreme costs of winter life here. Then the Hydro bill, 1/3 of that cost will be in the first "tier" which is apparently the average usage, and 2/3's of course in the far more expensive second "tier". Not sure why this corporation does not comprehend that every single person living in this area is always into the second tier, because...it is freaking cold, and dark for the majority of our winter. We are not wasting electricity, we are simply surviving. So....to help offset the gas bill, and to protect ourselves in case of power outages, the woodstove becomes a part of my winter. I have a love hate relationship with this "appliance". The wood room is the only place I feel warm. The heat that comes out of the stove is capable of warming my old bones. Wood stoves are dirty. It originally was set up in my livingroom, but the constant packing in of wood, with bark and splinters dropping all about, drove me batty, Although it was properly placed on a tiled area, the rest of the room was carpet. Now..no matter how careful one was, sometimes when you went to fill the thing, a chunk of wood would "pop" sending an ember traveling a great enough distance, it landed in the carpet. Now, that carpet is gone, but, the wood stove has been moved to the basement, to save on mess, and the continual ash issue. When I get out of bed, at what I used to consider an ungodly hour (5:30-6AM) I immediately let one dog out on the run (often having to rush out in my P.J's because the run is tangled on a tree) and then make my way down to the basement, to fill up the stove. Then back up (often leaving the stove damper open, because there are only a few embers to catch the wood on fire) again, rushing outside to untangle the outside dog, letting them in, and hooking up the second. Then setting the Tassimo up for a cup of coffee, and back down to the basement, hoping the fire caught. Upstairs again, second dog tangled, out into the -frigid, likely swearing, because by now I have snow in my shoes, and I am still barefoot. Then I can sit.
So, today, my second day off, it is clear I must spend time with the snow blower (not really comfortable with the thing yet) and.....an hour or so, hauling wheel barrow loads of wood into the basement. Yep, so there, 4 hours of my day spent dealing with winter! I am getting old, I want to use my time to relax a little, to read, to bake, to simply enjoy life. 4 hours X's 6 months, give or take a few days, is an awful lot of time (not good in math, therefore I will not calculate, and also, I am sure the number would give me chills) and I am beginning to think I am too old for this!
I am trying to be positive, December 21st, is coming. I love that date, more than any other. It is the winter turnaround. Unless you have lived most of your life in the north, you likely don't even consider this date, but for folks like me, this is a great day. December 21st is the shortest day. All this time daylight has been becoming less and less, this morning at 8:30, still pitch black. However on December the 22nd, we begin our ascent into longer days, it is the moment we have survived the darkness, and days become longer. I have been around long enough, I know it is only moments longer, but...this is what I grasp onto to allow me hope. Only 10 more days, and we head into summer.