Friday, November 29, 2019

I Traded Scrapers 

This is so cute, it must be fun!

I knew it was a bad sign. I knew it was disrespectful to the gods. I did it anyway. I left my barbecue scraper hanging by the grill, as if I’d use it again in no time. Now, “no time” is in the past. On the very day I travelled to sunny, fiery, burning California, Toronto had somewhere between 10 and 15 Cm of snow. A wet sticky snow that stuck around. Usually November is like winter’s flirt. Oh, it can be cold. Or not. Maybe? Shy November just looks away coyly curling her hair about a manicured finger. Such a tease. Is that a snowflake that kissed my cheek? No? Just light fluffy rain that clings to your coat. Is it rain? Is it freezing rain? It could be. What seemed like the odd early snowfall and cold spell has stayed around like unwanted company, like the last drunk at the bar. Why? All because I left my barbecue scraper hanging above the grill, taunting nature’s eye. I’m pretty sure that’s why it snowed and I would like to apologize for that.

That first snow has since gone, but now I’ve swapped out the grill scraper with a snow shovel. You know the kind. The wooden shaft, the bright matching plastic handle and blade. Mine’s a cheerful blue, the same colour of one of those cheap summery kiddie pools. The effect is a kind of pathetic attempt at making shovelling fun. A red snow shovel is far more appropriate. It’s an angry colour. The colour of blood. The blood of the shovel pusher that is boiling with every heaving load of snow. Canadians have a love-hate relationship with snow and ice. There is the tobogganing, sledding and shinny of our youth or maybe even the downhill and après ski grog of leisure versus the early morning fight to clear a driveway or sidewalk in an act of attrition of which the falling snow will always win.

You cannot defeat snow. The softly, drifting, falling snow that adheres so prettily to shed shingles, covers the detritus of the city and reminds one of a frontispiece illustration of a rare edition of A Child’s Christmas in Wales is the same snow that must be pushed, bullied, salted and piled to make way for our busy lives. What if we just left it? Would that be so bad? As a Torontonian I can tell you that it is bad. The City of Toronto refuses to admit it is a city of the North. It refuses to clear away snow that it believes will eventually melt anyway. Thus the snow is left to coalesce and collude into mini immovable glaciers that blacken with road pollution like a coal miner’s lungs as it builds ice berms to be climbed to reach the sidewalk and creeps into the roadway taking away entire lanes. Thus it cannot be left and nor will it be defeated.

So the hanging of the snow shovel in such a prominent place shall be considered my genuflection to the season. On bended knee oh Winter, I am your humble supplicant, and I ask ye to be ever so gentle as to not bow the spine of my roof, nor crack the shaft of my shovel, nor break the back of he or she who shovels for we are your unworthy servants, forever in your service, now and always.



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