Another dispatch from the Wilds of North Middlesex — likely #10
Like many Canadians, even those in faraway Prince Edward Island, renowned for its winter storms, we have had an unusually mild winter so far. In fact, some bulbs are up, and a winter aconite was on the verge of blooming a few days ago before the mercury fell again. It’s the yellow dot near the centre of this photo :
I expect many people attribute the balminess to climate change, but I know the real cause. We decided, after several years of snow shovelling and drifts as tall as I am (not that much of an exaggeration), that it was time to get a snow blower. Since then it has snowed —feebly — twice.
Unlike Greg, who eschews comparison shopping, I have learned a lot about snow blowers. My enthusiasm for on-line investigation likely warmed since there was no snow to shovel, which I actually enjoy doing in moderation, and it was raining, which dampened my eagerness for taking a walk. See raindrops in this accompanying, somewhat dreary, photo :
According to Wikipedia, snow blowers are a Canadian invention first devised in the 1870s. For some reason, they are now called snow throwers, and they come in one- and two- stage models. You have to both pick up and then throw the snow; a one-stage does that in one operation, whereas in the mightier two- stage type, one mechanism draws the snow into the augur and then another blows it out the handy chute. We bought the latter variety; I call it the Beast.
It is a wise idea to familiarize yourself with its operating ins and outs (no pun intended). This includes how to start the Beast. In this regard, Greg had a small role to play in the ongoing history of Cub Cadets in North Middlesex. The day after we bought it in early December about an inch of snow fell. Greg hastened out to throw snow. Nothing happened except for ever saltier language , not befitting that of a man of the cloth nor my gentle readers. I suggested the motor /engine thing might be flooded, but I was ahead of the curve.
A quick trip back to Parkhill Outdoor Products, and problem solved. You need to prime it first. News travels fast here, and Greg’s adventure has already entered local lore: Over coffee at my neighbour’s later in the week, her son-in-law, a truck driver and buddy of the salesman since high school, asked if we had had any more trouble getting it to start.
Not a good idea, we quickly learned to blow the snow too far and have it land on your neighbour’s driveway. Your irritated neighbour may soon land on your front porch. Also, it should come as no surprise that wearing a floaty accessory like a scarf is discouraged. No one want to channel poor Isadora Duncan.
And that’s not all.
Things like garden hoses, rolled-up newspapers and forgotten small toys may lurk under a pristine blanket of snow waiting to jam the works. Not a wise idea to unblock the augur while the machine is turned on even if it is not actually running. The misadventure of a local doctor entered the annals of local of history many years ago. He tried to take a jammed-up newspaper out of the scoop at the front and lost two fingers in the process. Even though this happened in Ailsa Craig, it is still used as a cautionary tale around here.
My re-entry into normal January activities pales by comparison. Low mobility exercise class resumed a couple of weeks ago. As we bent and stretched to the usual pre-holiday tunes. I was rather sorry not to be doing front roly-polies and climbing over the imaginary log to Ave Maria and O Holy Night, but there is always next year.
Speaking of January, I have resolved to make better use of my skates. After trying them out over Christmas at the rink at city hall in Toronto, I decided, once we got home, to go to the holiday community skate over at the arena.
Toronto has a reputation in these parts for big-city lawlessness. In fact, someone at cantata practice insisted to me that the murder rate in Toronto was higher than that in Detroit, but she was from Sarnia, so I expect I should cut her some slack. Anyhow, at the rink in Toronto, skaters travelled in the same direction, did not roughhouse, did not play throwing games with hats, did not carry their toddlers on their shoulders, nor did they pound down the ice like Moose Vasko. I expect it was because most of the Mega-city skaters were either arthritic (like yours truly) or still learning. Note number of skaters with both feet on ice:
But herein hockey country, it was a different story and a hair-raising experience for me. Even though Tim Horton’s sponsored the free-for-all (in every sense of the term), I am going to pay $2 and attend the moms and tots and seniors sessions from now on. There is a two-year-old who plods straight across the rink on the blue line, but I think I can dodge him.