The best one can say about winter, it seems, is a backhanded compliment.
Seventeenth century American poet Anne Bradstreet wrote, “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant….” Percy Bysshe Shelley couldn’t muster much better in “Ode to the West Wind”: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”
The penguins from Dreamworks flick Madagascar are more pointed as they survey the icy wasteland of Antarctica: “Well,” one says, “this sucks.”
The idea of winter appeals to me, more than ever in an Olympics year and especially given Canada’s — and Canadian women’s — stellar showing. But in the day-to-day grind of looking for the other mitten and having my iPod earbuds pop out of place because the cords are chilled stiff gets under my second skin of thermal underwear. The reality is, I spend much of January, February and March wondering if this is the year I’ll finally be selected out.
I mean that in the Darwinian sense. Surely as a Canadian who loves to snowboard but would rather take three runs and retire to the fire with a hot chocolate, my genes are not meant to be passed on.
This winter though, I’ve scarcely spent time looking for extra sweaters to wear on my walk to the coffee shop. I’ve nary felt the wet tears from whipping wind freeze into solid chunks on my lashes. This winter has been positively merciful.
Sad on the snowman and sledding front, sure. Terrifying on the climate change front — what with Stephen Harper’s oil lobby government in power and last week’s release of Tim Flannery’s new book The Weather Makers: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change, which the Globe Books section heralded Saturday: “This could be the most important book you read this year.”
We already know spring’s coming early (thank you local rodential prognosticator Shubenacadie Sam) but with such a forgiving winter under our parkas, the melting season’s going to be downright unnatural. There’s nothing to thaw out from. There’s no ice. No snow. Spring is going to be like recovering from an accident that never happened. (Speaking of which, pity that seal pup didn’t manage to take a bite out of Heather Mills-McCartney’s hand.)
The vernal equinox is a week and a half away. Normally the mere mention of the official beginning of spring is taken as a cruel joke, the response snarled back from under a foot of ice-encrusted snow. Remember, this week in 2004 we were only 18 days past “White Juan,” which dumped 95 centimetres on Halifax. This year, I have shovelled exactly once.
I feel like breaking out my spring jacket, but I won’t, lest it be suggested I condone season-pushing (ladies: keep the flip-flops in the closet).
Nature, of course — kind as she’s been — can turn on us like a snarling white-coat seal pup. And she may yet.
Halifax Regional Council has bent the rules for an early patio season, allowing drink decks to go up March 27 for the Junos weekend. But there’s always the chance of a late-March snowstorm.
Such an early spring squall could well select me out of the species, but it might also unburden the gene pool by knocking off a handful of the late-night patio partiers. Darwin would approve; the 2am Argyle Street sidewalk debauchery is many things, but least among them a testament to the theory of evolution.
How do you feel about the winter that wasn’t? Email: email@example.com