Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Past Deadline: Oh Joy Oh Bliss Oh Patio

This winter, as you may have noticed, there was ice.

I would suggest it was a ridiculous amount of ice. In fact, I would like to lodge a complaint with Mother Nature, but she can be testy, and I hate to think of how she might retaliate.

In my world walking this winter was, as my son would say, an “epic battle.” The ice made me very unhappy. The sidewalks and streets were difficult enough for regular people, and it was downright painful for those of us who have a “stupid foot.”

I’m not going to get into the details of said appendage again, other than to say that with all that bracing for a fall and with every slip and for all the bumpy, uneven ground, it was no fun.

Normally Winter and I get along just fine. It’s not my most favourite season, but we have an understanding. My appreciation of winter really gelled after I realized that wearing a hat keeps one’s head warm in winter. (That was after the teenaged years.)

Besides, snow is fun. My kids like snow. Or at least I like to convince myself that they do. I am grooming them to be shovellers.

Nevertheless, it was happy times around here when the ice started to disappear from the sidewalks. Walking was exponentially less painful.

Over this last weekend when the temperatures spiked in what I would normally call an alarming way, I seized the opportunity to attack the patio.

I love our stone patio. My dad and I worked on it together the summer before last and it has become my “other” room – where I can work, relax, eat or hang out with family and friends. It even comes with a part-time housekeeper – the rain helps to keep it clean.

Trouble is, the patio is in a bit of a shady spot in our backyard. That is not “trouble” in the summer when it’s super hot, but at this time of year when the sun’s not as strong and isn’t angling in quite the right way yet, it means we’ve got ourselves a pretty cool patio – literally.

Even with temperatures as high as they were this past weekend, it is tricky to melt through three or four inches of solid ice in a shady corner in March.

That’s why I took an obscene amount of pleasure hacking and chipping at said ice on Saturday afternoon. It seemed like a glacier – small icebergs came away and were unceremoniously shovelled onto the grass in a sunnier part of the yard, where they melted by the next afternoon.

Boychild joined in the fun and chopped away with the ice chipper while I poured a few kettles full of boiling water over the thickest parts.

Our arms fairly vibrated with all that chopping. “Your arms are going to be sore later,” I warned him, but it sure was a good kind of sore. (It was an ibuprofen kind of night for me.)

It was very therapeutic to take revenge on a winter’s worth of ice by eliminating one small, thick and persistent patch covering up my beloved patio.

After a couple of hours Boychild and I had progressed to the point that I could actually pull the furniture out from beneath their protective tarp.

Later I sat in a slightly damp chair on my cool-but-ice-free patio and enjoyed a beverage while listening to the crazy hubbub of birds frolicking in the warm, spring-like early evening. Ah, bliss!

The next day, even as the temperature spiked to the mid-20s, there was still a layer of ice on the lawn next to the patio. It’ll take a while to disappear, but that’s okay – I have no plans to sit on the grass.

After all, I can sit on the patio.

It is so awesome!

(Long winter?)

Sure, maybe it’s early. There will probably be more snow – there’s almost always snow in April. I am hoping to prevent that little problem by keeping the shovels and snow brushes out and by not putting the winter boots away just yet. It’s a solid plan, yes?

Published in The Perth Courier, March 22/12

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