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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Canadian Snow Trumps Sunshine in Oz

We were gifted with a wake-up call last week, when that snowstorm hit. (For those of you who didn’t like the snow, by the way, I apologize. I’m pretty sure my late father, who loved snowmobiling, has been given control of the snow machine in Heaven...) One of my favourite memories of growing up in Eastern Ontario was waking up every year to see the first snow blanketing the lawn and branches. The dramatic change in scenery was / is breathtaking. If I have one complaint about the snow last week, it was that it arrived in the evening. No surprise. But Mother Nature - and Dad - have another chance to surprise us, later in the season.
With the freak snowstorm, Cody’s doghouse filled with snow, the side of our tent-trailer blew in, and Wendell the wallaby, as you have heard, went missing. Hopefully he will be found before snow covers his food supply again.
We were reminded that the cows need a heater in their water trough, the sheep need hay in their feeders, and we need snow tires on our vehicles before the next storm hits.
But I tell you this. I would never trade our four Canadian seasons for a year of Australian sunshine. I’ll take our soft, refracted light creating opalescent frost on the fields over the harsh Brisbane glare any day.
I lived three years overseas in an Asian country that suffered rain instead of snow in winter, and I actually came to miss our frosty season.
Having four seasons gives every living thing a chance to rejuvenate, to re-energize, and to be reborn. Winter is for cocooning and connecting, spending time with loved ones over coffee talk and dinner parties. It’s time to catch up on best-selling novels and indoor projects such as home improvements. Winter builds character. Perhaps that is why Canadians are renowned for having such a great sense of humour!
I pulled the deadheads out of my garden last weekend and uncovered fresh green buds that will lie in wait under the snow until springtime. I cut down the clematis vines and trimmed back the dogwood shrubs. It’s time for everything to sleep.
I took my jacket off in the afternoon sunshine and loaded the wheelbarrow with wood from the log pile. As I piled the wood on the back porch, I thought of everything that has happened since the last time we prepared for winter.
Last year at this time, my father was very sick. We knew we were losing him, but we didn’t know how long we had. Every day was a gift. He has been gone nearly ten months now.
Last year our daughter piled the wood on the porch. She loved working around the farm. This year, she has other interests.
Last fall, I was a newlywed farmwife. This year, I often sit quietly and wonder at my life. Why did it take me nearly 40 years to come to this place? (And I don’t mean Oxford Mills. I mean this place in my life.).
So this is what happy feels like. Wonderful. Peaceful. Content.
My friend in Vancouver tells me that the rains have begun. They should end, she says, around May next year. That is their winter.
A former colleague in Australia writes that summer is just beginning in Brisbane. The rays are so fierce, direct exposure is not recommended for longer than 15 minutes at a time. Sounds like our frostbite warning.
In Taiwan this winter, the wind will whip through and the rain will pelt down as my friends try to make themselves comfortable between concrete walls with no central heating. The temperature only drops down to about 5 degrees Celsius, but the damp chill doesn’t leave until springtime.
I’ll take Canada. When the sparkling snow falls, it insulates like a blanket. I’m looking forward to a getaway weekend at Gray Rocks Ski Resort. Their value season deals are so good, it’s almost cheaper to go than to stay home. I’m not much of a skier, but I can get down the hill without breaking my neck. And it’s a great way to enjoy a wintry weekend in the sunshine.
Instead of complaining about shoveling snow, think of it as a free workout. Suck your tummy in, bend your knees, and heave-ho!
When the roads are too dangerous to drive, take comfort in the fact that you have a warm home, healthy food to eat, and someone to talk to. Turn the television off. Stoke the fire. Let time slip by, slowly.
Enjoy your winter. Buy yourself some boots, wear a hat and cloak yourself in proper winter clothing. If you are dressed appropriately, winter in Canada is amazing. Be proud of your Canadian heritage. And, as they say in Australia, quit your bloody whingin’, mate!

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