Spring Forward – Fall Back

Nasty old Verna Equinox – AKA Mother Nature – has been toying with us this year.  She’s promised us since March the 21st that it’s Spring, but, like a drunken bar pickup, it’s a lot of talk, and very little action.

Despite Verna’s claims, it’s not really Spring until it warms up, and she just keeps teasing us.  Hold out a little sunshine and warmth – and then snatch it back with an icy hand.  Hold out a little….well, you’re living through it; you know what I mean.

We all want the warmth of real Spring.  We need it.  We hope for it.  Some of us pray for it – except in California, where they’re praying for rain.  They’d even take the forty days and forty nights, and out there, where Sodom meets Gomorrah, they might get it.

I think we all have those ‘It’s Really Spring When….’ benchmarks.  I know I do.  This year, every time we reached one, and hope began to blossom, Frau Nature took the proctology scope out of the refrigerator and said, “Bend over and cough – Bitch.”

It’s really Spring when all the snow finally melts – and two days later, I’m sprinkling the last of my urea crystals to melt the ice on my driveway and sidewalk.

It’s really Spring when you see your first robin.  The first one I saw was in a clothing store in the mall, buying a North Face insulated parka.

The ‘really Spring’ point for the gardener wife came a couple of weeks ago, when the nearby supermarket assembled their outdoor garden center.  We might as well buy plastic plants.  They’re just as hard, and they won’t wilt when they thaw out.

I thought I’d finally reached the ‘really Spring’ point Sunday night/Monday morning.  The ‘warm Spring rain’ had been coming down steadily for hours, and had finally melted the permafrost that is my front lawn.  The grass was so sodden that the poor earthworms were drowning, and were crawling up and out of the dirt to breathe.

Monday being garbage day, I was taking out the trash at 3 AM so that the neighbors would not be blinded by my sartorial splendor.  It’s really Spring because the earthworms are out of the ground, and all over my driveway.

Here I was, lugging two bags, and daintily pirouetting down the driveway, avoiding worms, in a pair of fleece shorts and slippers.  It’s not that I believe in the Hindu/Karma thing.  It’s just that She Who Must Be Obeyed doesn’t take kindly to having worm guts all over her floors.

Two days later, BrainRants could have used the worms like frozen spikes to hold down the planks on his rebuilt deck.

SDC10802

The above photo of my deck was taken at 3 AM Tuesday April 22nd, Earth Day.  Really, snow?? Again?? C’mon Ma Nature, over a month since you claimed it was Spring?  Have a hot flash or two.  I am so looking forward to putting away my ice scraper and snow shovel….  Wait, that means I have to get out the rakes and lawn mower.  🙄

#449

Storm-Stayed

airport blower

 

 

 

 

 

On my Digging In – Digging Out post about heavy snowfalls, I got a comment from a fellow writer who used to truck produce from the ferry dock, to the other side of Newfoundland, a large island-province off Canada’s east coast.  It is affectionately known to its residents as ‘The Rock.’

He told of a time when he and several other truckers were stranded for three days at a truck stop, when 125 inches (That’s 10+ feet!) of snow fell, accompanied by high winds.  I admitted that Ontario’s weather problems were often puny, compared to Newfoundland’s.

My familiarity with all things “Newfie” has been gained both online, and by association with many ex-pats, now working up here, but he apparently felt it was from personal experience.  The following is an explanatory email.

If, by your comment, “Ha, you’ve been, I see.” you mean to The Rock, the answer is no.  My financial, and the wife’s medical, restrictions make that nearly impossible.  However, there are almost as many Newfies up here, as there are left down there.  I worked for four years in the Hespeler section of Cambridge, ON, where the population is about half Portuguese, and half Newfie.  Drive down the street and yell, “Hey Joe (Joao), and all construction stops. Every second Newfie is named Sean or Shawn, and that includes the women.

At my auto-parts plant, there were 2 dozen Newfies for 200 employees, including four from Bell Island.  Add my online friends…. and I’d like to add you as one.  Would you wish to admit where you’re currently parked, so that I can overwork my map program?

At the risk of clogging your email, I have a snowing/driving story I wish to share.  In my Location, Location, Location post, I wrote of Kitchener being just far enough from three Great Lakes to miss ‘a lot’ of snow.  Also, it’s mildly hilly, cutting the wind and preventing a lot of drifting.  Just to our west, it soon becomes flatter, and drifting can be serious.  If the Ontario Provincial Police shut down Southern Ontario’s main artery, Highway 401, it’s almost always just past Kitchener.

A brother-in-law drove for years for Koch Transport.  His run was from Kitchener, 70 Km to St Mary’s, and back each day.  He (and wife) were taking two weeks holidays, and going to Hawaii, flying out on a Saturday morning.  On the Friday, he made his run, and got back to Stratford, where he found police blocking the road to Kitchener.  They waved him into a strip mall with two other big-rigs, and a half-dozen cars.

He left it running, and climbed down to talk to the others.  One of the car drivers asked what he was going to do.  He replied, “I’m going to wait until there’s an accident, and the cops leave, and then I’m going to move that barricade and make a run for it.  I’ve got to get home.  I have a flight out tomorrow.”  The guy replied, “I’m going on a trip tomorrow too.  Can we follow you guys?”

And so, they convoyed out, with the semis breaking trail, and the cars following.  With the trucks leading, the driving really wasn’t all that bad, and they all soon got back home safely.  The next morning, as he was boarding the plane to Hawaii, he ran into Mr. Sedan-Driver again, on the same flight.

 

Archon

 

 

Digging in – Digging Out

Snowplow

 

 

 

 

The recent ‘lake effect’ snowstorm which buried poor Buffalo, yet again, has served to remind me of a similar piece from my past.  Lake effect snow is caused by (relatively) warm winds blowing across still-unfrozen water, and then over much colder landmass, which causes the moisture to condense and freeze.  Once the Great Lakes freeze over completely, snowfall is greatly reduced.

In November and December of 1957, Lake Huron, warmer than usual from a hot summer had not yet frozen over.  Storm after storm came rolling across the lake from Michigan, so that we could blame the Americans, as they often do Canada, for the terrible weather.  A 150 mile swath of lakeshore and inland towns were buried under feet of snow.

Now being bused to a high school five miles away, I experienced my first ‘snow day’ on a Wednesday, when the bus couldn’t get through.  Before our days of television, I was at home with my mother, when we heard on the radio that the roof of an arena in a town 50 miles southeast had collapsed, killing several children and a skating coach, and injuring several others.

On Friday afternoon, as we dismounted the now-running school bus, the town’s Police Chief informed several of the members of the Boys’ Club, that there was a BYOS party being organized.  At 10 AM Saturday morning we were to bring (Y)our own shovels, and assemble at the town’s (natural ice) arena to shovel snow off the roof to prevent a similar disaster happening in our town.

Before the advent of aluminum scoops and shovels, snow was moved with heavy, awkward, steel garden spades, or square-mouthed coal shovels.  The next morning, about 25 of us showed up with an ill-assorted mix of tools.

I hadn’t thought about our task, or the reason given for it, until I arrived at the arena.  The collapsed one down the road had a low-domed roof, which allowed the accumulation of a significant snow load.  Our arena had a 90° roof, with a 45°slope on each side.  Snow just didn’t accumulate.

After it had been built, a two ice-sheet curling rink had been added to one side.  It was this annex, with its 7° roof, that we were assigned to save.  Not many school-kids at risk here, but many of the privileged members were also the well-off citizens and business owners who donated to, and supported our club.  That was as good a reason as any.

Snowbank

 

 

 

 

The snow on the roof was 3 to 5 feet deep.  It needed to be cleared off.  A ladder was leaned against the side of the building.  If it had been up to me, I’d have sent one guy up to reduce the weight, and clear a space for another shoveler, and so on, and so on.  It wasn’t….so the Police chief went up, kicked his way into the snow and called the rest of us up to join him.  Soon we had 25 teenage boys, and two adult men on the roof.  If it was going to collapse, this is when it would have happened.

My fisher-boy schoolmate attacked the piles of snow like a Tasmanian Devil, his sharp steel shovel and snow flying in all directions – except actually off the roof.  He was a safety hazard, not to be got too close to.  Within five minutes, he rapidly tired, and really accomplished very little, but he was the one who impressed the Game Warden enough that he was the only one mentioned when the tale was told, for years.

The rest of us soon organised a much more efficient system.  Starting at the roof edge we cut 2 foot square blocks, like for an igloo, and slid them off the smooth roof. Then others would move up and cut more blocks, and slide them down, to be pushed over the edge.  Soon we had several crews cutting, pushing and dumping.  The roof was cleared and our civic duty done by noon.

The side of the building that we dumped snow from was a town works-yard, with piles of sand and fine gravel that crews used to cast concrete water culverts, as well as dozens of finished units.  By the time we were finished, these were all covered, and there was a 20-foot high, 50-foot wide pile of snow about the same slope as the now-clear roof.  I don’t know if they did any water work before June.

Do those of you who live in snow country have white horror stories?  Will those of you who don’t, stop snickering!