Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘snow

Night Snow

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Under the street lamps that pool their light on the now white road wind whips the flurries into individual cyclones whirling about helter skelter. Cedars on the roadside go dark, lost in the shadows, lost in the black of night. In the cone of the streetlights the snow takes on highlights that accentuate its movement. It dances with the wind, blurring in flight, never, it seems, touching down, hovering around and inside the beam’s pool bringing new life to the light. Night Snow is different than snow falling at daybreak…more menacing. You are unsure of what it leaves behind until dawn crawls up the dark trailing early morning light to show you its night work. Night Snow is like a secret gathering, an army, a relentless force building for an attack at daybreak when the world wakes and is forced to face the consequences of all that Night Snow has left behind.

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Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

March 4, 2015 at 8:16 PM

SPRING DAY SUN

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Sun shadows fall on the diminished snow and wind wicks away whatever white grains remain as the contradiction of sun and cold conspire to sacrifice only the surface, revealing nothing but more of the same. Winter is not yet done with us. 

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Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

March 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM

The Snow Blower Brotherhood.

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The snow blows horizontally here in Southampton. That’s one of the first things we noticed during the first days of our first winter in our new hometown. The squalls come in off Lake Huron and blow down the Saugeen River behind our house, sculpting drifts that shift with the wind leaving my driveway sometimes clean and most times buried.

Having lived in Sault Ste. Marie and Montreal, I’m no stranger to snow, deep or drifted. But living in Toronto spoiled me with those once-or-twice-a-winter storms. So, I had to get used to shoveling all over again. And it hurt. It hurt my back. It hurt my knees. It hurt my self-image of having the never-ending strength of someone use to hard, physical work.

Finally, after four years of digging out after the snowplow passed…after enviously watching my neighbours effortlessly clear their snow with mechanical ease…after a continually aching back, I realized that joining them was the only way my aging body would survive future winters.

So, I bought a snow blower.

And, it’s a beauty. I got me a red, Honda HS724 with Hydrostatic Transmission and electric everything. It has tracks instead of wheels. I can control the angle and height of the chute with a video game type toggle, no manual cranking, no manual anything. Just set it and go, forward or reverse. Twenty minutes and I’m done. I’ve never been happier.

Right now, there are cleaning patterns to work out, wind direction and speeds to content with, all of which are proving to be a pleasant learning curve.

My neighbours have all been by to inspect and comment on my new machine. And they approve.

Now, after the squalls have had their fun, I don my lined Kamicks, my Tough Duck bib overalls, my Honda Red Parka, pull on my toque, take up my position behind my machine and turn the key. It starts first time, every time. Then I set her in gear and follow her to the driveway. I raise my hand to my neighbours – the sign of the brotherhood – and then I blow snow…with a smile on my face.


THE WEIGHT OF SNOW

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We woke to a Christmas Card scene this morning. Overnight, snow, thick with moisture, fell hard. Its clinging weight bent the branches of trees and practically leveled all the low lying shrubs. It was the kind of snow that snaps the trunk and limbs of trees. Thankfully we were spared.

Our birch tree was the worst hit. Its tall, proud branches submitted to the snow and lowered themselves to the ground. So much so that it looked half its normal height. Nothing was broken. All was bent. Robert Frost’s poem Birches came to mind:

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,

And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed

So low for so long, they never right themselves:

You may see their truncks arching in the woods

Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground…

My fear was that he may be right. I did not want our birch to suffer that fate. I must have looked a sight, dancing around our tree in the morning darkness, stable broom in hand, knocking snow off the branches. For my efforts I was showered with dead leaves and wet snow. But, relieved of the weight, our birch reached skyward again. Leaves littered the snow covered lawn. The footprints of my boots trampled them down. Though many remain on the branches, golden against the white. The leaves of birches are always the last to fall.

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Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

December 1, 2008 at 8:13 PM

The White Winds of Southampton

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SNOW SQUALLS!

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