Saturday, January 29, 2011

Past Deadline: Winter, We Need to Talk

Dear Winter,

I think our friendship may be in jeopardy.

It’s no secret you are difficult to love, but over the years I have stood by you loyally, defending your character to all comers, making excuses, trying to be enthusiastic about your strange whims. It hasn’t been easy. You make it awfully difficult to be a good, true friend.

What I love most about you is your snow, which gives everyone, particularly the kids, something fun to do. That said we are not a family of winter-sport lovers. We don’t ski. We don’t (GASP!) do the hockey thing. We skate a little, if you can call it that, but not very often. We have been known to snowshoe and we like to go sledding.

With this meagre participation in the fun stuff of winter, why am I compelled to defend and love you so? Because you are you! Winter is part of everything that is this place, and life wouldn’t be the same without you.

Possibly I will feel differently about you when I’m older because, you know, relationships change and joints get creaky and the cold is felt more keenly in the bones. For now, though, I want to give you some advice, as a friend, that might help to perk up your image a bit.

First of all, it’s about this bitter cold thing. We expect it to be cold, but we’re in eastern Ontario and our normal winter highs and lows are a bit different than those in, say, Yellowknife. I think it would be a smashing idea if you could limit the number and duration of cold snaps each winter. In other words: enough already.

See, this sort of thing annoys people and then they say mean things about you. And don’t try to tell me that January is all about cold, sunny days – frostbite warnings and windchills into the minus 40s are not “cold,” they’re frigid. It’s just mean. Knock it off. The ice is thick enough for skating now, so we can move on.

Besides, when it’s cold like this it gets harder and harder not to agree with the people who say, “Bring on global warming.” But don’t worry, I mutter “It’s climate change” every time. Climate change is not necessarily a warm thing.

Anyway, my second piece of advice is to provide more snow. We’ve had the cold, we’ve got the thick ice, now could we please have a little more snow so that the kids can make forts and snowmen and such? People who ski and snowshoe like snow.

Now, I know you’re probably scoffing at this advice because if there’s one thing you hear over and over from your critics it is complaints about the snow. That’s why I’m saying just a little bit. Maybe little bits at a time.

These crazy whiteouts on major highways causing huge calamities are a bit much. And the 50-or-so feet you’ve dumped on parts of North America is overkill. Spread it around a little!

I mean, you know me. We’ve been friends for a long time, and you know that I tend to be realistic about you. It’s not always going to perfect in your season. You are loveable, but difficult. The best relationships often are.

I know you’ve crossed a line when I find myself agreeing with the late news. Usually I scoff whenever some silly winter weather story is the lead. “Suck it up, buttercup,” I’ll say. “It’s winter! In Canada! It’s what we do and who we are! We know how to use snowplows!”

When I find myself nodding and thinking, “Wow, that really IS a lot of snow” or “That really IS cold” or “That really DOES merit a state of emergency” then either I’m getting soft (not yet) or you’ve gone too far. Play nice. You’ll win more friends.

That all said, I know there are tonnes of folks who will never love you or who once did and now speak only with contempt and disdain whenever you show up – nasty or normal. I still think every little bit helps, though.

I want us to always be friends, Winter, but I could use a little help.
Sincerely yours.
Published in The Perth Courier, Jan. 27/11

1 comment:

Christine said...

So witty, all of these columns!

You are truly a good soul to keep those high-maintenance cats! I can't imagine.