Death by Snow

gm_13005 Shining Bank Snow, Alberta 1977

Image by CanadaGood via Flickr

With a second “snow event” in as many weeks behind us, I pondered the piles which have turned our yard, front and back, into a white labyrinth and thought about the phone conversation I had yesterday with my husband.

“The boss dropped by, ” he told me, “looking for anyone who might be interested in a possible project down on the Gulf Coast. I told him that I might be but it wasn’t a decision I could make* without consulting you. The probability of the project is based on a U.S. economic recovery, which isn’t all that likely, but how would you feel about it?”

He was talking about the Texas coast. Texas being only slightly less objectionable than say Alabama, whose governor recently admitted that he has no Christian charity to extend to anyone who isn’t Christian and was once such a bastion of seething racism that blacks forced to travel through it packed their own porta potties and carried an extra gas can for refueling in the trunks of their cars.

“Baby, this is the 7th day without sun and it’s been snowing non-stop since last Wednesday,” I said. “This probably isn’t the best day to ask if I’d like to move south.”

Of course, the southern states in the U.S. are harbingers of the level of bat-shit crazy that will fan out over the rest of the country like the four horsemen once the next election cycle kicks into full propaganda mode this coming fall, so I am lukewarm (though not literally) about the prospect of a front row seat. Monitoring the shenanigans from Canada is enough adventure for me.

But the prospect of warmth, sun and no snow does tempt.

Everyone is escaping to Mexico. I listen to the travel tales filled with bouts of uncontrollable diarrhea and Federales with  machine guns escorting bus loads of pale northern tourists to the insulated resorts with a minimum of envy and a lot of wonder.

I read too much to consider Mexico even the slightest bit safe for someone pale and unable to speak the language beyond the ability to ask for a beer or for directions to the nearest washroom.

Silly white tourists. My student roster when I taught drop out prevention flowed over with Mexicans, who are ingratiating and smile a lot but who also see Americans (we are all Americans to them) as marks to relieve of the heavy burden of our bourgeois bounty.

The boys would regale me with stories of their tourist trap homes and cajole me to visit.

“I have a cousin (uncle or auntie) who can set you up cheap! It’s warm and more beautiful than anyplace you have ever been.”

“Is it safe?” I would ask.

Sheepish grins before a serious look would replace the huckster, “I wouldn’t send you anywhere that wasn’t. My family (friends) would look out for someone who I send.”

I’ve never been to Mexico. Rob and I thought about marrying down there, but the whole translation of documents plus the logistics of getting everyone there proved to be a significant deterrent.

Normally, it’s Rob who funks out early in the winter. He blames it on the lack of sunshine, but statistically, Alberta is one of the sunniest places in Canada.

I am fine until mid-April and it’s still snowing. It’s not the lack of sunshine; it’s the absence of spring. We simply don’t have spring here. It’s cold until it’s not. It snows until it’s meteorologically impossible for it to do so anymore. This could be early April or it could be June.

In Iowa, winters are a bitch, but spring – hot sometimes and lush due to the rain and snow melt – arrives with gusto in late March or early April. That is what my body is used to and I do miss it.

But there are feet of snow in the yard, along the roadsides and piling like small mountain ranges in the parking lots. And it’s still January.

Everywhere I go, people marvel and say, “I have never seen it snow this much before.”

Even Rob remarked, “It’s never snowed this much in the fifteen years I have lived here.”

To be a part of such an historic snowpocalypse hasn’t been a life’s goal and I am unlikely to look back fondly on it.

People talk about “climate change” and “global warming” and I read about scientists who are concluding that the earth is nearing one of the ends of its infrequent warm periods and preparing for the next ice age. The earth’s natural state, after all, is “ice ball”. Whatever the reason, it sucks and I have reached literal saturation.

*Rob unilaterally made the decision to move the family to Kansas back in the early 90’s and was informed by his late wife that he did not have the authority to ever do something like that again.

5 thoughts on “Death by Snow

  1. I have seen Gov. Perry of Texas talk just enough to know that state is not the place for me. This from a woman who’s living with a wingnut in the Maine governor’s mansion, but I know that turnaround is likely in four years. Texas can’t promise as much.

  2. I know what you mean, and so far this hasn’t been a “bad” winter here. I haven’t had to go into hibernation mode in the evenings when I want to go out and meet friends for an adult beverage. After Monday’s 12 + hours of light snow which became very wet and heavy as the temps rose through the day on Monday and then froze on Tue., parking has become much more difficult. I will find out tonight if moving my car and trying to find parking a 2 am turns into a really dumb move, but I need a break from the apartment before the subzero temps move in with possible wind chill readings of -25 F for tomorrow night and Friday.
    I think I could take the heat and humidity of the Texas coast in summer, better than the cold and snow in the north, but Texas is just too conservative for me. All the people exercising their gun rights and packing weapons and gun racks in the back windows of their pickups would scare the hell out of me. In the ’80’s, the parking lots for the gay bars had armed guards. I don’t know if that has changed now.
    I have been to Mexico twice. Once in the early ’70’s for a 6 week summer school program through the university. I don’t remember seeing Federales with machine guns then. The second time was in the late ’80’s to Cancun before it became so popular with the tourists. Even then the Federales would patrol the beaches with machine guns, and they were stationed at all the banks. If they caught a tourist taking pictures of them, the film was pulled from the camera and destroyed, and if you had any common sense you didn’t argue with them. But you know how some Americans can be when they travel. I was ashamed that these people were my fellow citizens. In the ’80’s I felt safe, but now I don’t think I would, and I have no desire to go back. There is just too much drug violence, and it is spreading throughout the country. I have several friends from Mexico, and I always worry about their safety when they go back to visit their families.
    It is the lack of sun that gets me this time of the year as I slide into a state of a total lack of ambition/energy and sometimes even depression. A week of sunny days usually does wonders for my energy. It was worse when I was teaching and in a room with no windows. It was dark when I went to work and dark when I came home, and I needed meds to survive and deal with my students. The side affects of the meds including an almost total lack of any emotional feelings were something I detested; As soon as I retired, I weened myself off the meds. I am not a cold weather, outdoors type of person, so I will deal with the lack of ambition and energy in Jan. and Feb., and wait with impatient anticipation for March and April. Last spring the garden came to life in March. This fall it was well into Nov. before the killing frost ended the growing season here by the lake, so most winters lately have been bearable.
    It has been about 10 years since we have been hit here by the lake with that kind of snow. It seems to happen every 10 to 15 years. I remember far worse as a kid on the farm when the 5 miles into town was a trip through a “tunnel”. One lane traffic with snowbanks 3 to 4 feet higher than the car; If you met another car, one vehicle had to back up to a wider spot in the road. One winter the snow plows couldn’t get through some areas, and a bulldozer had to be brought in to open the road. At other times I remember Dad and other men in the neighborhood going out with their shovels to dig the snow plow out when it got stuck.
    I find Canada appealing, but BC with its more appealing climate is just too isolated for me at this stage of my life when all of my family is in WI.

    1. It’s actually quite conservative here in Alberta too, but they are funny lot. Contradictions abound and it makes the conservatism easier to take.

      BC isn’t bad if you can stand the rain. I find damp cold to be worse than the dry cold here. You could always become the reverse of a snowbird and come to BC in the winter:)

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