The first snowstorm of the season is a bit like a semi-annual dental cleaning. You know it’s coming and you don’t necessarily look forward to it, but you gird yourself and get through it all the same.
Here in Toronto, our winter’s first storm started Sunday night, and by yesterday morning we had 15 cm of the stuff to clear away. Temperatures hovered around zero because, after all, this is The Six, where the snow that piles up is less often light and fluffy, and more often slushy, joyless and stone-heavy, such that the left side of your chest almost shrieks out loud with every shovelful. I struggled to clear our walkways, but the extra-wide driveway was out of the question.
Since no one has yet invented a snow plow that attaches to my husband’s power wheelchair – as far as he’s concerned, it would have to be one that comes with a domed, self-heated enclosure and a little cup holder for his hot tea, and perhaps the documentary channel on surround-sound while he’s at it – I am the one stuck with the shoveling. And by stuck, I mean that I reach a point where my shovel is left stuck in a snowbank, and I’m back in the house trying to catch my breath.
But like I said, the temperature was rising, and by the time I took the dog out at midday, a quick glance towards the driveway as I left the house suggested to me that the snow had almost completely disappeared. Melted away, or so I thought. It wasn’t until I returned from the walk and grabbed a shovel to finish the clean-up that I realized the snow hadn’t melted at all. Rather, it had been vigorously cleared away, at some point in the morning, by some nameless neighbour.
It happens every year. The snow falls hard, I struggle to clear us out, someone comes along and lightens my load.
And here’s the thing. I don’t have a clue who to thank. There are so many kind souls around here that, in winter weather, I can’t even be sure who did what good deed. Which is probably why I write about this every year.
The weather is cold, but our hearts are warmed.