Sunday, 2 February 2014

Happy Groundhog Day

It’s February 2nd, Groundhog Day in North America.

The custom goes, if the groundhog leaves his burrow and sees his shadow, we’re in for six more weeks of winter. Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous groundhog, from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and Wiarton Willie from Wiarton, Ontario, both predicted six more weeks of winter for the U.S. and Canada.

As a predictor of weather, the groundhog is a questionable source. He is no more reliable than the March theory for predicting the end of winter, that in like a lion, out like a lamb thing.

I think people are just having fun with winter, spring will come eventually, at one time or another, depending on where you live. Environment Canada is predicting the frigid temperatures that have affected most of the country for the last two months will most likely persist through February.

I usually prepare myself for the winter, but like it best if it doesn’t show itself until Christmas. I need those weeks leading up to the holiday to be snow free, cold is okay as long as the roads are clear. I need that time to finish up my Christmas shopping, and it makes the winter seem shorter.

This winter the snows came early and have been ongoing throughout January.

I said I prepare myself for winter, but what I really meant is I accept that winter will come, no matter what I do. Unless I move south, a winter that includes cold and freezing temperatures is a given, though some winters are better than others.

We were spoiled for a few years with minimal snow, and isolated bouts of sub zero (Celsius) temperatures. This year it has been snow storms, one after the other with sustained bouts of frigid temperatures and a major ice storm thrown in for some variety.

The piles of snow, pushed to the side of the roads, or the edges of parking lots have reached a height that makes them dangerous. The mounds of gray, gritty looking snow can block the clear view of drivers on the road. The mound pushed in front of my place is four feet high.

The Roads Department have tried to keep the roads clear, but you can feel the roadways getting narrower and narrower with every storm. I was in town the other day, shopping with a friend. She found a parking spot about two stores down from the store we wanted, and we thought ourselves lucky. She got out on the street side, and I got out, or tried to get out, on the passenger side.

I couldn’t open the door fully for the two foot high pile of snow at the curb. I squeezed my way out the door, but was in a tight spot, where the only way out seemed over the pile of snow.

I tried to place my feet where someone else had walked and pushed the snow down. I only made it two steps before I fell flat on my ass and found myself sitting, sort of embedded in the snow bank.

There was only one thing to do…laugh. My friend was sure yukking it up where she stood safe and sound on the sidewalk.

“Quit your laughing and give me a hand out of here,” I managed to say. She reached out and helped me up, but by then the damage was done. My pants were soaked, my fault for wearing my short coat that day.

We finished our business at the store and went out for lunch. I told her I was going to write about this in my blog, and teased that I’d tell everyone she pushed me. But truth be told, she’d had a difficult time getting over the same bank further up the street and was lucky not to have fallen. On the return trip we walked to the corner, where she took the road back to the car, and I waited at the end of the sidewalk for her to pick me up.

All’s well that ends well. It was a bright and sunny day, cold but not the frigid cold we’d recently endured and I got some fresh air and exercise, and a nice meal with a friend.

The next storm is predicted to hit early this week, with 10 to 15 cm. of snow and subzero temperatures, basically same old, same old, as that’s what it’s been for the last month.

I’m ready. As long as I have power for the TV and for my laptop, I’m happy. (And for the light, and the heat of course, and maybe the stove, and the refrigerator, I do want to eat.) The point is, I can keep myself amused if I’m house bound, so long as I can stay in touch with everyone.

My thoughts go to all those workers who don’t have the luxury of staying home and avoiding the weather, like the emergency crews, fire police and ambulance, and those whose jobs are vitally needed, like doctors and nurses.

Life goes on, kids still have to go to school and parents and other adults make the effort and face the challenge of getting to work each day, and everybody gets through it the best they can. Bundle up guys, and stay safe.

Willie and Phil may say six more weeks of winter, but maybe we’ll be lucky and their predictions will be proved wrong. One can only hope.

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