Musings on Snow

Festival du Voyageur, 2014

Festival du Voyageur, 2014

Snow in Winnipeg is nothing unusual. We generally have the white stuff here on the ground from November until May. But I think most people would agree that this year the snow has been more of a presence in our lives than it usually is.

There’s no question that we got more snow than usual, although apparently the quantities were nowhere near record-breaking. Maybe it was the sheer volume of it, giant piles at every intersection, homeowners running out of space to put it. Maybe it was the unrelenting cold that made it harder to get out there and shovel it.

Maybe it was the graders everywhere, giant machines that dominate the streetscape this time of year. The operators of those monsters are pulling some impressive shifts this year. While we are all grateful for passable roads, the windrows that block us in and imprison us in our own driveways are another peculiarity of winter in Winnipeg.

People are getting tired of it. Tired of the shovelling, the cold, the slow traffic, the icy sidewalks. There are hints of spring to be seen – a few buds, a chirping bird. The days are longer, the sun seems a little stronger.

At the same time, this is when we celebrate winter at Festival du Voyageur. Snow sculptures, maple taffy made in the snow, tobogganing, sleigh rides and the ice bar. People are out in their parkas and tuques, playing in the white stuff as though it were their best friend. Some years it is freezing cold during Festival, at other times the sculptures melt before our eyes. Yet attendance is always good. We love Festival, and we can’t imagine it without snow.

I have been in Winnipeg for nearly twenty years, and I still marvel every year at the complicated relationship we have with our harsh, beautiful climate. We complain bitterly as we shovel, yet we never miss a beat or close anything down in conditions that would paralyse a lesser city. Sometimes, however, it is worth pausing to contemplate that beauty.

What do you think?

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