Hello again from home!
Today is the shortest day of the year. Or the longest night. You can decide which sounds best, though it’s not really one of those ‘is the glass half empty or half full?’ kind of things because ‘short day’ or ‘long night’ either way it will be pitch black by 4pm here.
Yes, it is that time of year again. The time when Prez forgets all of the bad parts about our time in tropical locales – insects, ciguatera poisoning, locals who hated foreigners, limited food selection, high price of…everything, heat that made you so cranky you wanted to strangle random strangers (and which put a serious damper on ‘romance’ if you know what I mean), lack of entertainment options, lack of running water, lack of privacy, guests with ‘glitches’, etc, etc, etc. With the arrival of these dark, cold, short days, suddenly Prez will blurt out statements like, “Remember how we used to watch the sunsets, on the beach, with the guests?” his expression glazed and wistful.
I don’t blame him. Actually, I curse my pragmatic and near-photographic memory that recalls all too vividly scenes of us eating dinner, (the same meal that we’ve likely eaten for the past three days), in a pool of sweat, as bugs drop from the ceiling, with not even a cold shower to look forward to because the city water is off…again.
As a child, I loved winter. But then, as we all know, children are mentally unstable. Don’t believe me? Ever notice how hard it is to get young children to go to bed at night? Adults, we know how great sleep is. If someone gave us a hot bath, fed us dinner and told us to get our pj’s on and hit the sack at 9pm we’d be doing fist pumps and jumping for joy.
Childhood winters were a thing of beauty. On the west coast of BC, where winters are mild by Canuck standards, snow was sacred. From those first tenuous flakes, most of which melted into a brown slurry upon touching ground, to the first real dumper, (soon followed by a school wide ban on snowball fights after the first rock is hidden inside a harmless projectile), we celebrated snow with a passion that’s tiring even to think about now.
Growing up in flat, ex-farmland territory made sledding difficult. Thankfully Gunderson Park had a wide, steep hill perfectly suited to the task. Gunderson was our Mecca and we’d all bundle up and make the long trek just for a few hours of downhill thrills and spills.
Well, mostly spills.
Unfortunately, Gunderson’s hill ended at the backstop for the baseball field. If you didn’t bail early enough, you would slam into the large, chain link fence at the bottom. As the proud, past owner of a ‘Crazy Carpet’, I can tell you that no stunt I ever performed was quite as pants-peeing scary as rocketing down an icy hill on a piece plastic as that fence threatened to thwack you like an enormous fly swatter.
And then there were snow forts and snowmen and snow angels. We didn’t care that our coastal snow was heavy and wet and that every expedition out our front door carried the threat of pneumonia, we would rush home from school to play outside until dark.
Which gave us about an hour.
It wasn’t until I started to drive that my love affair with snow really ended. And even then, a few runs down the ski hill and I was willing to overlook the fact that my GMC Pacer was basically an automotive version of my old Crazy Carpet and that every trip to the corner store meant a potential ICBC insurance claim.
No, it would be the Prez who, with his siren song of beaches and fishing and long bright days, that would come between Canadian winters and I for good. Let’s face it, once you’ve spent Christmas day fishing, in shorts and a t-shirt, it’s pretty hard to face the prospect of spending the season tressed up like the Michelin Man every time you are foolish enough to step outside.
And here we are. Our second consecutive Canuck winter.
Ahhh, those sunsets we used to watch with the guests? Now that I think about it…
Until next time, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!