Snow is both light and heavy, slow and fast, visible and not.
It’s a season of contrast.
I live in a Canadian province that stretches from Windsor/Detroit (on a latitudinal par with Northern California) to Hudson’s Bay – a stretch between 42 and 57N; from carolinian forest to tundra – “Ontario is Canada’s second largest province, covering more than 1 million square kilometres (415,000 square miles) – an area larger than France and Spain combined”, reports my provincial government.
Somehow, after exploring many other places on the planet, I became the sixth maternal generation to live in the one small town in this enormous province that gets the biggest annual snowfall (and rainfall). Owen Sound is nestled at the base of the Bruce Peninsula, which defines the west shore of Great Lake Huron and the rocky eastern shore of Georgian Bay. A note: I identify more with Georgian Bay than with Huron, which is like a lukewarm bath to swim in when all I want is the rejuvenating shock of cold water. GB is 80% the size of Lake Ontario, second-deepest of the world’s largest inland freshwater lakes, and is guarded by a hothead Anishnabe god called Kitchikewana. He called me back here from far far away and I came. For good reason.
The geneaology is important in a personal way. But the effect of all this falling water, both frozen/ light and heavy/ wet – that has shaped me and my understanding of the world in a very profound manner.
I think differently, because of it.
Snow, here, is peace. The wind on our walls; the vast plain of white outside our windows; the deeply understood value of fire and warmth; the call to our belly muscles as we shovel ourselves out of a four-foot blanket of confinement – we live in a kind of shared solitude that makes things clear and simple.
In an ocean full of the salt of complaint, I exult in my good fortune – to be Here.
Annoyed – that on April 10th at 6:45 am the wonderful deep drenching spring rain turned to heavy wet snow before my eyes. I don’t have a picture for this post because I was too annoyed to take one – you’ll just have to imagine the soggy, cold, icy slop of it and feel my blues.
Happy – to be annoyed because this is all as it should be. We live here, where the weather is inconvenient, unpredictable, often violently extreme, but never never dull.
Here’s Chris Hadfield’s post of the Great Lakes at dawn, taken Easter morning. Note the streamer covering the base of the Bruce Peninsula, where I live – that’s snow.
Nevertheless & whatever the weather, I love this beautiful blue planet.
Sudden southeasterlies are brutal and mean, knifing through whatever pitiful layers of outerwear I have: Go in – NOW. Find warmth. Survive. My God. If it’s like this here, it must be utter chaos over the northeastern United States.
The sky’s heavy with blue-gray clouds pushed relentlessly backwards over bare whipping branches, roiling pine and cedar. There is no place, no thing that is still outside.
The chestnut tree bends and flaps a final brilliant yellow, asters glow their brave singing violet to the bruised sky.
I feel a deep, rumbling snarl rise in my gullet in answer to the harshness of this, as if I’m defending my home and young against a dangerous territorial threat. So I bundle up my snarling gullet and stand defiant on the edge of the escarpment, belly, chest and face to southeast.
From here I can see the normally peaceful lee side of Owen Sound whipped from an indigo centre to a pounding froth – as though it’s suddenly remembered how to kill.
It’s good – to be reminded how small we are, on this planet.