Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day

Normally I am already awake at six o’clock in the morning. But last night I had gone to bed later than usual, and the night before I hadn’t slept well at all. So last night I got caught up and slept relatively peacefully. The last thing I recall before retiring was looking out my study window to see if the snow had begun. When the radio alarm suddenly announced the six o’clock news it startled me. For the previous twenty-four hours the media had been predicting a snow storm for most of Eastern Ontario, and this morning there was no let up in the pronouncements. Aside from the Egyptian uprising in the Far East there seemingly wasn’t much else to occupy the journalists.

Well right on cue the snow began in abundance, along with the forecasted strong winds. Over breakfast we decided to walk to the office to avoid any trouble with automotive transport. I have to say it is a welcome consequence of the media frenzy that most people did the right thing and stayed off the roads which were already heavily laden with snow and hadn’t been ploughed. I was bundled to the limit, sporting my very warm and ample racoon hat which years ago I had purchased on Sparks Street on a bitterly cold winter day. My heavy leather winter boots made nice work of getting me through the ridges of snow created by one or two vehicles which had previously insisted upon traveling the almost impassable roads.

The otherwise difficult walk to the office was buoyed by the exhilaration which customarily accompanies a snow storm. Those of us who were on the snowbound streets were anxious to communicate a cheery “Hello!” to one another as if to prove we weren’t to be daunted by anything. Along the way I encountered two owners walking their respective dogs, one a puppy Golden Labrador, the other an unusually happy Sheltie. Both dogs were thrilled to be in the fluffy snow and were quite pleased, straining in their harnesses, to muzzle me as I approached them and their owner. I was thankful that I hadn’t to deal with timid or unfriendly dogs. A bit of canine contact is a good thing now and again.

As I walked across the Bridge towards the Town Hall my hat was nearly blown off my head into the freezing and churning River below. I wondered what I would have done if it had happened, and whether my household insurance policy would cover the loss, assuming it exceeded the deductible. Quickly abandoning this line of frivolous thinking, I determined in my mind that upon my return home after work I would walk on the other side of Bridge to avoid any such catastrophe.

My approach to the office building disclosed as I suspected that there was a sizeable collection of snow upon the steps and veranda. Never mind. I welcomed the opportunity to take in more fresh air and to get a bit of further exercise sweeping, making a deliberate spectacle of myself on such a unique day. When commercial activity is so obviously crippled, it rather animates one to do more and with less stubbornness. Virtue thrives under oppression.

For the remainder of the day, as we attended to the month-end bookkeeping and the daily bureaucracy, I remained in doors. We had but two visitors. They came blustering into the office out of the cold and swirling snow, stamping their feet, embracing themselves to illustrate their shivers, also plainly cheered by the challenge of it all. They had walked to my office from their nearby home, actually the larger one of three they own. Prompted by the manifest inclement weather we engaged in an animated conversation about their business affairs before they pushed off once again into Lapland for the return journey.

All afternoon the snow continued to fall and the entire building was muffled by it from the sounds of the street. Three or four times I opened the front door of the building to sweep snow from the veranda and steps, but the snow collected behind me again almost as fast as I removed it. It was clear by now that what activity had earlier occurred was all that there would be today.

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