Wednesday, December 15, 2010

winter is upon us

I have just come inside after a nice long walk in the bright sunshine and crisp, cold air. There is some snow on the ground and a lot of ice, but it is not unmanageable. It is actually quite pleasant. Especially if you are dressed in appropriate layers.

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.


  1. It's true. People complain when those in Haiti still do not have houses.
    All the fabulous volunteers put these people up in emergency shelters and fed them. Sledder rescued them, using precious gas to do so.
    It is a good place to be stranded.
    Good post.

  2. People take bad weather very personally and want to blame it on someone. We see that here too when they get stuck in traffic because of bad road conditions, even though they were warned ahead of time. If it all turns out well, they grumble because of the warning that went out. Your road conditions do sound extreme and tough to deal with. We have nothing like it. Not yet, anyway.

  3. Winter is a bitch and she hates us all.

  4. I suddenly understand more clearly why some animals hibernate. Obviously dealing with climatic extremes requires a particular mindset, and if we are lucky we just drift along. All those supplies you need! Very evidently lots of people fail to think things through.

  5. We are expecting snow this evening and tomorrow. Sigh! I am not a fan of this snow. It can pass us by and I would be thrilled. Traveling in it is scary and I have had some terrible times driving!!!!! One night I had slid off a snow and ice covered road into a ditch and no one was around. No lights or cars anywhere!! I was so scared! Then someone appeared from next to my car and I was so thrilled. She flagged down the next person that came up the road and they got my car out. He even took me home. I left the car parked where he towed it. I wasn't driving in that snow anymore that night. No way!! Ha!

  6. I live in the warm south, and yet my driveway is so icy I can't get into work!

  7. We have all been warned of snowstorms that will start off tonight. However, even though England grinds to a halt very easily in the snow, I guess what you have is very much worse by far. Sounds horrendous. Lets hope it doesn't last.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  8. I actually miss winter and the snow. It's just having such a LONG winter that gets me down.

  9. Driving with little or no visibility is nerve jarring. That must have been so freaky to have followed that man home.

  10. Interesting---we seldom get snow so of course everyone complains when we do. It is seldom bad and never anything like 'lake effect; snow and cold. It must be in our nature to be complainers. well maybe.
    thanks for the visit to my blog. MB

  11. Ahh the "snowbelt". I grew up in that in Ohio and my family all still lives there. It's kind of hard to describe the brutal cold, wind and All. That. Snow!

    Stay warm and safe. Merry Christmas, jj

  12. I agree, but I am here in a very hot spring time in Argentina :)
    Have a nice Sunday

  13. It's good to hear that it's not just the UK that grinds to a halt with snow! But I do wonder at people - our local police force were saying that people should only travel when absolutely necessary and people are complaining that the police have not defined "absolutely necessary"...... umm...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. I enjoyed reading this! How quick people are to blame someone else for letting them do...whatever. Too many people do not want to take responsibility for themselves, I fear.

  15. Aw, that poor Michigan guy. He probably thought it was all some big Canadian conspiracy. ;)

    Stheriously, though, it makes me feel a bit better about the chaos in Britain, if even Canada has trouble with snowstorms. And I'm glad I'm not the only person who (whisper it) actually finds it really stressful driving on snow and ice. Especially as I have to do it twice a day, going to school with my children in the car. Roll on the holidays.


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