“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
- John Steinbeck 'Travels with Charley'
I am not a 'Winter person' per se, no great palpitations of the heart at the thoughts of roaring across a wide snowfield with the pungent smell of 2 cycle oil in my nostrils, no great shushing down perilous slopes at breakneck speed, nor gliding over an empty pond in the full moonlight!
I am a 'child of The Island', enamoured of long walks on empty beaches with nothing but a singular eagle soaring overhead or the symphony of gulls at a herring boil.
There was a time, long time ago, when Winter was a necessary evil, somewhat of a relief after months of 747-sized mosquitoes, though I admit feeling a bit of trepidation at the first dusting of snow on my trusty 'Jimmy' (the large-sized Tahoe, not some little weekender toy). But those days are long gone, warmer climes beckoning to the arthritis in my neck.
This 'Winter Like No Other' in Ottawa on Tundra has been mild, I must admit, a brief flurry of snow in December to dust Christmas trees and generally snow-free roads (not that we are going anywhere thanks to Mr. Covid!).
But February, ah February, coldest month of the year, has seen Mother Nature pull back the curtain and reveal the true nature of the season! Icy blasts of snow, with brief respites, then repeat, appears to be the forecast for the next few weeks, with the polar vortex rotating happily across the Canadian landscape.
I have to admit others are having a worse time this February! Friends in the midwest are expecting temperatures near 0 Fahrenheit, but then what do you expect when you live where anything over 12 feet high is considered a 'mountain'? Besides, -18 Celsius sounds much more impressive than 0 Fahrenheit (Thank you Mister Metric, wherever you are!).
Begrudgingly, I have to admit there is a certain beauty about Winter, especially when viewed through a kitchen window with fresh cup of coffee in hand. Cardinals and woodpeckers are still flitting about the feeders in the backyard and one cheeky black squirrel seems to enjoy sitting on the windowsill watching me wash dishes through the frosty pane!
So here I sit in my windowless office in the basement, watching the numbers drop on my weather station display, and happily contemplate the Spring that must surely come in a few weeks.
Or perhaps I will succumb to my better half's suggestion that I try skating the 7.8 kilometres of fresh ice on the Rideau Canal (I am probably due for some exercise, she noted, patting the extra layer that is growing on my mid-section). It might make the Winter go faster after all.
Scratch that... maybe I will simply lean on the kitchen sink and have long conversations with Mr. Squirrel while others breathe in that nasty 2 cycle oil.