Counting down the days to glorious spring

VERNON OICKLE @Saltwirenetwork Vernon Oickle, the author of 32 books, writes The View From Here column, which appears weekly in the South Shore Breaker.



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Goodbye winter, hello spring. We’ve missed you. According to the calendar, spring officially arrives in five days and it can’t come fast enough. That’s this coming Monday, March 20, but who’s watching the calendar? OK, I’ll confess. I’m watching the calendar. While I will pretend to be an optimist and think that maybe, just maybe, the worst is behind us, I am not totally convinced of that. Just because the calendar says so, does it really mean no more messy weather or cold temperatures? I may be wrong, and I certainly hope that I am, but I can’t help but think that Old Man Winter may still have a few nasty tricks up his frigid sleeves. That would be just like the old jokester, wouldn’t it? Get us all primed for nicer weather only to dump another massive storm on us? I just don’t trust him. Even though early on it seemed like we would finally enjoy a moderate season, by most standards, the last month or so has been miserable. While it was late in arriving, once winter got its grips on the region in February, it just wouldn’t let up with major storms that forced the closure of schools and businesses, high winds, cold temperatures and lots of snow. In short, I’d like to say, so long winter, it has been good to know you, but it really wasn’t. Some will rightly point out that my hatred and disdain for winter is irrational and unhealthy, perhaps even bordering on psychotic. They may be right, but I will argue that it’s my party and as such, it’s my right to reject winter if I want to ... and I absolutely want to. But I will also point out these feelings are not new. In fact, they are deeply engrained as they manifested many years ago in my childhood and they’ve grown worse as I’ve aged. (I may need help.) I know. I know. I live in Canada and as such, I must expect several long months of cold, snowy and hateful weather, but just because I must accept it, doesn’t mean I have to like it. Besides, I know I’m not alone in this struggle. There are many others out there who despise winter as much — well, maybe not as much — as me, but they’re afraid to speak out about their feelings because they fear the wrath of those who like winter. Just as we can’t understand why anyone would like winter, those who do enjoy the cold and snow can’t appreciate our feelings. Perhaps I should think about forming a support group for those of us who struggle through the winter months. I can see it now. We can share our feelings and reminisce about those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, those days of soda and pretzels and beer. (OK, Nat King Cole. Get out of my head). But I digress. Someone recently asked me why I despise winter so much and I’m sure, as I waxed poetic and proceeded to list off the things I don’t like about the season, they must have surely regretted asking the question. However, just in case anyone else is wondering where it comes from, I’ll share some of my thoughts on the issue. First, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. I do not like playing in the snow. Never did. I guess I wasn’t your typical kid, but even as a youngster, I despised the thought of rolling around in the snow and getting all wet and cold. I know. I’m not normal, but hey, everyone has his or her foibles, right? Then, as I got older, I really came to understand the negative implications of winter such as trying to remain mobile in the snow and ice. Walking and driving are hardly easy and usually leads to several agonizing and angst-filled months. It’s not that I’m afraid to travel in the snow, as I have done so for many years, it’s just that I don’t like it. But who does, right? There are many people out there who enjoy the challenge and thrill of speeding through the snow drifts, but ask yourself, is that really normal? I certainly can’t understand that perspective, so the debate rages on. Another thing I really despise about winter is scraping the windows in my vehicle. It’s aggravating for sure, but if you drive, then scraping is a definite must not only for your safety, but also for the safety of everyone else on the road. Try to remember that the next time you get behind the wheel and speed off with just a tiny peephole to look through. How many times have you seen unsafe conditions because someone has been too lazy or in too much of a rush to adequately clean off their vehicles? Safety aside, though, every driver on the road should also know this is a fineable offence so if you can’t clean your windows to be a good driver then do it for your pocketbook. Speaking of things I don’t like about winter, let’s not forget about shovelling. If I had my choice, I’d rather mow grass in the summer than shovel snow in the winter (oh, here we are back to those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer again) but seeing as we don’t have a choice, let’s just hope we’ve shovelled our last snow for this winter. So, we’ve talked about mobility issues, the safety of scraping our car windows and the stress of shovelling snow. Is there anything we haven’t touched on? Oh yes, silly me. How about the extra costs associated with winter? How could we have forgotten that angle? Where to begin? How about the costs of buying and installing snow tires and then the biggest cost of all: heating our homes and the additional fuel our vehicles burn during the winter, especially for people who allow their cars to “warm up” before they head out on their journey. I shudder at the thought but that is the reality of life in the northern hemisphere. Have I successfully argued my case? If not, it will hopefully soon be a moot point as, just like the calendar says, it will soon be springtime, my favourite time of year. I like spring because of the promise it brings. With its new life and renewed perspective, spring offers a fresh start, something we can all use following a long, cold and dark period, a time known as winter, or at least that’s the view from here.