Yet, all around us there is chaos. The wrath and fury of winter and lake effect snows has taken hold and gripped areas of Southwestern Ontario. Highways are closed, hundreds of people are stranded, dozens of vehicles abandoned. People are still digging themselves out of their homes. Yesterday's drive home show on CBC featured listeners calling in to report the conditions wherever they were - some incredulous at the blue sky and crawling traffic for no apparent reason (tales of 45 minutes to drive 8 blocks) and other spots that were virtually problem free while a few miles away there were snow squalls and whiteouts.
I used to live in what is known as the "snow belt" - an area of Ontario that gets a lot of snow, predictably, without fail, every year, though there are bands where the snow can be more or less - it is dramatic and instant as you cross over from one area to the next. You learn very quickly to be prepared. I admit that I have become a bit lax about my emergency supplies, but I used to make sure I never travelled without at least a blanket, a cache of food, a flashlight, an extra sweatshirt and pair of socks, an icescraper, snowbrush and shovel, and a big bag of kitty litter (non clumping!) along with the usual jumper cables, extra wiper fluid and a first aid kit. And a full tank of gas. Driving in a snow squall is probably the scariest thing I have ever done. My route to work took me through some picturesque winding country roads into the ski hills. I once followed the taillights of a vehicle ahead of me into his driveway because I had lost all sense of direction of where exactly I was on the highway. It was a good thing he was able to tell me exactly where we were so I could try to get some bearings once back out on the road. But I did not feel safe. The stress near about did me in. I needed a massage when I finally got home!
It is good to hear the warm hearted stories of people coming to rescue those who were stranded. But as often happens, a day or so on and the complaints start.... why weren't we warned? (weather patterns is not an exact science, how often have we had dire predictions that never materialized), why were the roads not closed? (some were and still people drove onto them... and got stuck) why weren't we rescued sooner? (the police and army had to endured the same conditions as you), and my personal favourite: a guy travelling from Michigan who was angry that he was even allowed to cross the border when there was a storm!! I don't know how much detailed weather and traffic updates these border guards have access to, but I'm sure he should not be blamed for not knowing there would be a blinding snow squall that suddenly come out of nowhere.
Winter can be such a cruel season.