winter

Snowpocalypse

Last Wednesday was supposedly going to be a really big snowstorm, if you believed the weather reports. It was one of the top stories throughout southern Ontario. It probably hit somewhere hard, because when it finally arrived in Waterloo Region, it was a light dusting. The most annoying thing about the snowfall was the duration. A tiny dusting spread over what seemed like 18 hours eventually adds up to something worthwhile, and it also tended to cause snow removal efforts to stall, as the snowplows continued up and down the major routes. All the other roads in the region were slippery and icy. As Shakespeare writes in Henry the Fourth, Part 1: "The better part of valor is discretion" (V.4.118-119). I followed Falstaff's example, and counterfeited being at the office. That is, I decided it would be best to work from home. The VPN is a technological marvel.

Yesterday was a different matter. While I was aware that there might be snow, the weather reports I remember only expected around 1cm. So I was a little surprised to look out the window and see that around 10cm had already fallen, with another 5 to follow before it finished. Perhaps the difference was that this new snowfall occurred on a weekend, or maybe the forecasters didn't want to create a panic again. Either way, there didn't seem to be much coverage of the event until well after the snow had started. Really, it's all just part of winter. Neither event seemed out of the ordinary. Now we seem to have about the average snowfall for this area.

This snow fell in a much shorter period of time, and was considerably thicker and heavier than that which fell earlier in the week. Today, I was out clearing the snow, just like earlier in the week. On my stretch of street, five of the neighbours were also out with snowblowers or shovels, clearing everything off. Alas, it was not a snow event day in Kitchener, so someone was parked on the street when the plow came by, leaving a mess on the road.

I'm reminded of how awesome it is to have a wide lot, as well as a snowblower. All of my excess snow can be shot twenty feet into my yard. My snowbanks are three feet high, while some neighbours with narrower lots have banks seven feet high, threatening collapse onto their driveways.

I also took some extra time to remove all the snow the plow piled on top of the fire hydrant. Not only is it a legal requirement to keep it cleared, but it's also good sense. You really don't want there to be any extra difficulties should the fire department ever need to use them. Sadly, from a drive through the neighbourhood early this afternoon, I'm one of the few people who have done so.

Cold

Ah, winter. The magical time of year when tiny crystals of water shimmer in the sky as they fall glistening to the ground. When ice and snow covers the silver branches of trees, catching the sunlight in silent splendor. The wicked time of year when winter covers the streets with glare ice, as cars slip and slide in a deadly dance through the intersections, while snow drifts blow across the highways. Where a toque, mitts and a scarf are not just a good idea, but necessities in warding off frostbite. The frustrating time of year when glasses fog up on entering any building, and coffee never seems to dispel the dread chill from one's bones. Winter in Canada tends to take on mythic qualities at times. While the Spring Olympics of 2010 might have suggested that we don't always live in a land of ice and snow, when winter's chill winds grip the nation, it's certain to be a topic of conversation. But why the heck does it have to be so cold inside, too?

Maybe as I'm a sedentary software developer, and LCD monitors no longer radiate heat like the behemoth CRT monitors of the past, I feel the cold more. But I am getting more daily activity now, as I walk fifteen minutes to and from class each weekday. Mind you, some of that is outside in the cold. While I can make my way through the interior when I get to UW campus, I still have to get to the Davis Centre first.

Sadly, part of the problem is the difference in temperatures through the house. During the day, the temperature in the basement falls to four or five degrees below the temperature on the main floor. The temperature upstairs falls two or three degrees below the main floor. While I can close the heat vents on the main floor, this seems to persist. In the evening, I can get the temperature in the basement to rise a few degrees, but it still seems cold. Meanwhile, in doing so, the temperature on the main floor rises too drastically. I think I need a ceramic heater down here. I miss the gas fireplace in the basement at my previous home. It really allowed the basement to heat up. In the meantime, I'll pull on another sweater, and think about how nice it's going to be down here in the summer.