Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

The White Winds of Southampton

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It was reported in the local media that we’ve had over seven feet of snow so far this winter. Right now it doesn’t look that way.        

We’ve had some rain and warm weather. The melt has taken the snow down and, for the most part, cleared the ice out of the river. Judging from the height of the banks along the road you might agree. But that’s the work of the snow ploughs. They hit street-snow fast and hard. Their big blades throw it fairly high and thick. If you look at the piled up mounds in parking lots, malls, driveways and street corners you could agree that the white stuff has hit us with serious regularity. Even the hillocks at the edge of the pack ice on the lake are impressive.                 

If you ask me, though, we didn’t get dumped on by regular, everyday snow storms. No! Here along the Lake Huron shoreline we get Snow Squalls. ‘White Wind’ if you will.         

You can track them through Exeter Radar on the Environment Canada site. You watch it build and move slowly – heading straight for you. The wind pushes clouds out of the North or West out over that vast expanse of water. That’s where the magic occurs. The snow builds. Winds gather velocity. When both make landfall it falls…vertically mostly.        

Although that’s not exactly correct because the Squall whips snow in every direction – so thick and so fast all you see is a monochromatic blend of grey and white. There is no colour. Just a blinding blast of white that stops everything…cold.          

Snow is blown across flat farmer’s fields and roads are closed. Snow days pile up too because schools close. Driveways drift up deep. What lands on the ground doesn’t stay there long because the wind picks it up and moves it elsewhere. Then it stops. There’s a lull of about ten to twenty minutes. Then the streamers build up and hit again.        

And so it goes. The repetition tends to get boring after a while. This can go on for nights and days. You get a lot of reading done. Or else you stock up on DVDs. Or send stupid e-mail jokes. Or update your FaceBook profile.        

Surprising thing is…it doesn’t bother the birds. They gather at your feeders and fight one another for prime perch position. Some hunker down on the railing, fluff up their feathers and ride out the wind. They are braver than we are.

Eventually you get a break and after the snow-plough passes (having clogged up your driveway) the familiar white noise of snow blowers fill the air. You join your neighbours for the ‘clearing-up’ ritual. And sometimes – when you’re almost done – a Squall comes out of nowhere and you’re lost in the White Wind again…waiting for it to move on through. If waiting means watching the seven feet grow to ten…fine.

Snow Squalls have their own timetable.

You can’t fight ‘The White Wind.’  

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

March 2, 2008 at 10:26 PM

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