First Snow

You know it’s coming, it’s inevitable. You just don’t know when.

Some people will keep a wary eye on the weather reports year round, because you never know, right? Others only start to concern themselves with the possibility of it when the wick in the jack-o-lantern has finally been extinguished. Some people dread it, they were counting on a green Christmas this year. Some people hope for it with childlike desperation, they just can’t wait to hit the slopes. We know it’s coming when our girl Mother Nature starts dropping her coy little hints everywhere. Frost dusting the front lawn and creeping across windshields in the morning, warm coffee breath magically appearing before you as you huff your way towards the office, the rain puddles of last week turned slick and icy, a freezing cold surprise on your bum when you get up to pee in the middle of the night…

We steel ourselves for its imminent arrival. We test out the old space heater to make sure it still works. We gather up extra cozy thermal throws to snuggle on the couch with. We stock up on salt, shovels, anti-freeze, car scrapers and lock de-icers. We have to be vigilant. Especially here in Canada. The start of winter is unpredictable at best. But once that first snowfall takes, we can count on a solid four to six months of unrelenting cold and darkness.

I myself, prefer to be surprised by the first snowfall. I don’t try to anticipate it, that would spoil all the fun. There are so few surprises I will tolerate in life, but the first snowfall is one of them. And there are a myriad of ways that it can surprise you.

From the classic waking up on a cold morning and peeling back the curtains to reveal a generous three-foot-deep heaping of it, to the sneak attack flurries coating your car that you encounter upon your departure from the mall, possibly laden with spoils from your early Christmas shopping adventure. I love it when that first snowfall catches me off guard.

D and I went to a movie on Saturday afternoon. It looked a little chilly out, but otherwise calm. We wore our heavy winter jackets nonetheless, just in case. We made our way to the subway station, ducking our faces from the biting cold wind that whipped about our uncovered heads. “Fuck, it’s cold out there,” D exclaimed as we hustled down the stairs to the platform. His ears and cheeks were bright rosy red. “Yeah, but at least it’s not snowing yet,” I replied.

Seven stops later, we emerged from the subway and found ourselves smack in the middle of a swirling and splendid first snowfall. Surprise, motherfuckers!

Fat wet flakes floated all around us, settling on our coats and in our hair. I imagined we were trapped in a snow globe and laughed joyously as we dashed across the street to the theatre. A brilliant surprise first snowfall.

first snow yonge and dundas

first snow

The flakes were enormous and sticky. As we settled into our seats we wondered what kind of scene we’d be greeted with in two hours time when the movie was over. Maybe we’d be snowed in! Then we’d have to live off of popcorn and fountain sodas for the next couple of days while we anxiously awaited a ragtag group of unlikely heroes to dig us out. Maybe the power would go out and we’d be given some rain check vouchers and a bunch of awesome free shit to pacify us because they couldn’t finish screening the movie. Or better yet, maybe there would be so much snow that cars would be left buried and abandoned. Yeah, and there’d be a full blown riot in action. We could loot ourselves a sweet new snowmobile and scoot our way home through the hysterical masses. Oh yeah, I’d totally be up for a bit of light looting to cap off our date.

But, as it so often is with all of my daydreams, such was not the case.

That first snowfall was fickle. When we left the theatre we were met with sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows; everything that’s wonderful.

sunny snowy day

sunny snowy day 2

Well, not exactly that. But that would have been cool too, dammit. Another daydream dashed by stupid reality. But it was a lot nicer out than I was expecting. Although it wasn’t as extensive a first snowfall as I’d have liked, it did leave in its wake a beautiful view of the city. One that I can admire from the warmth of my apartment.

view of snow from above

IMG_2371

Surprised and delighted by the first snow of the year, I can’t wait for more. There are plenty of opportunities for my zany winter fantasies to come true this year. I believe in the magic of winter, and think that the first snowfall is a hopeful time. A time for wishes and dreams aplenty. A time for thinking about the future, and planning ahead. It’s a time for thoughtfulness and reflection. It can be a difficult and frustrating time, too. The cold, the rapidly shortening hours of daylight, the impossible driving conditions, the constant barrage of snow. It can feel eternal at times. But it is easily endured by those that choose to embrace it, rather than fight it. They don’t call it The Great White North for nothing, my friends. You can learn to love it, or move.

I’ll survive the frigid winter weather with my fingers firmly crossed inside my woolly mittens, hoping. Wishing on snowflakes, and dreaming on every visible puff of breath that escapes my lips. Because that’s how I like to be.

Always hoping, eternally hopeful.

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The Telltale Spring

There’s a familiar golden glow creeping through the curtains. No, actually. Not creeping. It’s been creeping the past few days, but today is different. It’s not glowing anymore. Today the sunlight is bursting through the  infinitesimal parting of the curtains. Proudly casting the full power of its rays upon the carpet.

I smile broadly into the pillow and stretch. Inhaling deeply, basking in the comfort of the crisp sheets. Dressing the bed in light breezy linens was the right thing to do. I feel validated.

Following the subtle leads and piecing together the slight clues of the universe, I was able to cement my case for the changing of the sheets.

Let’s review, shall we?

1) An insatiable desire to eat food on a bun

During the weekly grocery shop D grabbed a bag of buns and threw them into the cart without a second thought. “Let’s do stuff with these this week”, he suggested. Hmmm, maybe. That’s warm weather food though, I don’t think it’s time for that. I gave one of the buns a tentative squeeze with forefinger and thumb. Ooo, that’s good stuff. Fluffy. Fresh. It feels so right. I will do stuff with these buns. I’m going to get them home pronto and do terrible things with them. Terribly delicious things.

meatball subs

Meatball subs, drenched in marinara sauce and cheese.

Jumbo honey garlic sausage dogs.

Jumbo honey garlic sausage dogs.

The ambitious use of mustard is not to be overlooked. It’s a critical piece of evidence in itself. The stomach just wants what it wants. Foods shipped daily to tummy via bun.

2) The bike rack, in use!

A cold, shitty day in February while walking home from work. All of sudden, I’m face to face with what has to be the world’s longest bike rack. Enormous, and appearing out of nowhere, it caught me off guard. Seriously, it can fit like 20 bikes! No, actually, it can fit like 30. This rack can take a whole lot of bike. It was all D and I talked about over dinner that night. The mysterious new bike rack. Now a very major part of our lives. Who put it there? Why was it so big? Why couldn’t it wait until April to be installed? What was this urgent need for an extra-large bike rack in February, and why weren’t we aware of it? Then, we started betting on when we’d see the first bike. Surely it’ll go unused for months! We both wagered on dates in April. Logical, sensible dates in April.

The first recorded appearance of a bike on the new bike rack was Tuesday March 5th.

March Madness

March Madness.

The biker struck again on Friday March 8th.

A presumably happy customer.

A presumably happy customer.

Looking back now, I can’t believe how young and naive we were. Those were the days. The long forgotten days of weeks past, when a much younger Smash could not possibly fathom bikers in March.

Whoever you are, random biker, I commend you.

3) Sudden boom in street performance

D and I pass through Yonge-Dundas Square quite frequently on the weekends. To and from various activities and adventures. It’s very hectic. There’s always a lot going on there. It’s a very popular area for street performance and entertainment. However, winter can be quite discouraging to the performers. It’s cold, wet, and dark out. The people on the street are hurrying about, with very little desire to stop for an extended period of time. Seeking the warmth and comfort of the indoors, they speed through the square.

Friday night, D and I are strolling along Yonge. Hand-in-hand, we’re leisurely. It’s sort of warm out. It’s nice. As we approach the Yonge-Dundas Square, it starts to feel quite crowded on the sidewalk. Large clumps of people are gathering, watching something.

The closer we get, the more we can make out.

A man, covered from head to toe in golden makeup. A golden hat. A golden suit. A golden face. He’s a living breathing Oscar! His movements are robotic and strange. We can’t look away.

Eventually, we do pull ourselves away. Only to stumble upon another performer! A young dude, with a glass crystal ball. He’s moving it deftly from hand to hand. Rolling it across his fingers, gliding it up his arms and across his wrists. Every twist and turn of his limb a wonder. It’s as if he doesn’t have bones. So cool!

But we have to keep moving. We walk another couple of steps, and suddenly a catch in my throat. It is the most breathtakingly awesome sight I’ve ever beheld.

"You underestimate the power of the dark side"

“You underestimate the power of the dark side”

It’s freaking Darth Vader, holy shit, this is so awesome!

A new performer every couple of steps. The streets are crawling with them, and people are taking the time to enjoy it. Because it’s warm out. Because it’s Friday. And because you never turn your back on the dark lord.

4) Harvey hunts

My loveable little dude Harvey, suddenly has an abundance of visitors to stalk from afar. Big chubby city pigeons are stopping for a rest on our balcony. And Harvey has been very interested in monitoring their visits. Most likely to ensure that the pigeons don’t breach the indoor perimeter. He’s doing an excellent job protecting us from unwanted intruders.

He’s been listless lately. I’m happy that the pigeons are here. They keep him alert. He’ll go from blissed out napping to fighting fury in 5 seconds flat the instant he catches a glimpse of pigeon!

Based on these four facts, I made the decision to switch over my bed linens. I ditched the heavy-duty flannels for breezy cottons. The universe wants me to be ready. Spring is coming. And I have to be prepared to make it feel welcome.

It wants me to eat foods served on buns. It wants me to use the bike rack. It wants me to applaud the street performers. It wants me to clean the windows so Harvey can have the clearest possible pigeon viewing experience.

By logical assumption, it also wants me to change the sheets.

I’m ready for you Spring. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to speed your impending arrival.

Shine!

Shine!

“Come Over, We’re Having a Decker”

We had plans last weekend. Big plans. Top secret plans.

There was a party at the vets club in Newmarket. A surprise 30th Wedding Anniversary party for two very special people. To call them “my buddy’s parents” is a passable description, but does not do them true justice. They’re so awesome. Gloria is so sweet and lovely. Glenn is hilarious and a remarkable judge of idiocy. He’s seen a lot of it from our crew over the years, so he’s a bona fide expert in the subject. They have a soft spot for their kids’ drunken friends. And if not for their deck I might never have fallen for D.

I met Hoben the summer of 2005, and we hit it off instantly. We bonded over a mutual adoration of John Belushi. We shared an enormous appetite for booze and antics. We got drunk, and we caused shit. We were always egging each other on. Who could be more outrageous? Who could get the most obliterated? It was fun. We were young, we were stupid, and it worked. We were and are great friends.

hoben

Hoben visiting my dorm, Sept. ’05

The following summer of 2006 we hung out all the time. I had just turned 19 in April, and Hoben would be turning 19 in June. We had to do something incredible to commemorate it. Or at least get really drunk. So we decided to put together a plan for the weekend. Hoben called me up on Friday afternoon, his birthday was tomorrow. We were going to hang out and plan something for Saturday. “Come over, we’ll have a decker”, he said. And by decker, he meant we’d be getting drunk on his deck all night. Sounded good to me, I didn’t have to work. I grabbed a 12 pack and went over.

It started out just us. And then people just kept coming over. The more the merrier, that’s how a decker works best. Someone would call Hoben, asking what was up that night. He’d say “Come over, we’re having a decker”, and they did. Some random 40-something neighbourhood dude named Steve even came over. Nobody knew who he was, he just popped his head over the fence and said we seemed like a fun bunch. He wanted to party and we didn’t have the heart to turn him away.

Hobs and I had been drinking since 2:00pm. But he had to leave to work his 5-9 shift at the bulk barn. So he left me and a couple of other buddies to keep the decker going in his absence. And we did.

By 10:00pm I was just the right amount of hammered. Hoben had come back from his shift, and had been in touch with more people. They were on their way over, some cool peeps that Hoben said I would dig. Three dudes opened the gate to the fence and strolled over to the deck. The first two walked over, cracked drinks and sat down. The third dude hung back a second to close the gate. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I watched him close the gate and walk up to the deck. Casually, calmly. He was short, and a little stocky. He had a 26 of rye, he was here to party. He was dreamy, and he sat down next to me. I was too drunk to notice it then, but every stride he took across the deck was reeling me in. It was D, and I was powerless to stop myself from falling for him that night.

A little while later Hoben’s parents joined us. Hoben is basically a clone of his dad, so we loved Glenn instantly. He wasn’t shy about zinging us dumb kids, and slayed us with many well-timed one-liners throughout the night. And Gloria was the epitome of class. She was well-dressed and not a single hair on her perfectly coiffed head was out-of-place. She sat down gracefully while lighting a smoke. I loved her immediately too. She was welcoming and warm, bubbly and fun.

We were too effed up that night to stick to the plans we made for Hoben’s birthday the following night. We had this incredible idea for a toga party that never came to fruition. We just got drunk at our friend Curt’s house instead. But we’d never forget that very first decker, what an awesome night.

There were many more deckers to follow over the years. Deckers became the standard summer party for our crew. If someone had a deck and it was free, it didn’t take long to pack some coolers and haul them on over. They were always fun, but they were limited to summer.

one of many great summertime deckers, July '08

one of many great summertime deckers, July ’08

That is, until last weekend. D and I were reunited with all of the Hobens again for the first time in a couple of years for this party. Hoben’s little brother and sister were there too. And I’ve had plenty of fun times with them over the years! They can party just as hard as their big brother can. They were the evil geniuses behind this party for their parents. We were all buzzing with excitement, waiting at the hall for Glenn and Gloria to show up. And the blissfully wedded couple were completely surprised. They had no idea, no suspicion whatsoever that anything fishy was afoot. It was such an amazing thing that the Hoben kids did for their parents. Surprise!

There was a lot of love and happiness in the air for Glenn and Gloria’s anniversary. So many people came to share in their joy. All the memories of the fun times we had on that deck were coming to the surface each time D and I were introduced to another party-goer. “This is Smash and D, and they met on our deck almost seven years ago! And they’re still together,” Gloria proudly exclaimed with each introduction. We felt important, and we felt cherished. Our story was another legend of the Hoben deck.

Everyone partied and everyone had fun. When it was time for the bar to close down, there was this collective feeling amongst us all. A feeling that the party wasn’t over yet. It couldn’t be.

All the cheap drinks we’d imbibed had stirred up a longing for those simple summer nights. Nights spent on the deck, drinking and laughing. The weather was absurdly mild for a day in January. So why not? Why couldn’t we have a decker for old time’s sake? Glenn gave the official nod of approval. To the Hoben deck! And off we went in our respective cabs, racing back to the Hoben deck to keep the party rolling.

I set foot on the deck and was immediately transported back in time. I was 19 again. Working some shitty summer job that paid peanuts. Hanging out with my friends, just goofing around. My only care in the world if my beers were cold enough yet. Pure happiness.

Just enjoying the January decker with Ally and Shan

Just enjoying the January decker with Ally and Shan, January ’13

This decker will become the stuff of legends in time too. Remember guys? That time, after Glenn and Gloria’s anniversary party, we had a decker in January? Yeah, those were the days.

While sitting next to Gloria, I asked her if there was any secret to their marital bliss. She told me, “He makes me laugh every single day.”

Congratulations Glenn and Gloria! You’re an amazing couple and I will consider myself very lucky if D and I end up as happy as you two are in so many years.

Glenn and Gloria dancing to their wedding tune

Glenn and Gloria dancing to their wedding tune, January ’13.

This post is dedicated to another great couple, my Aunt Carrie and Uncle Tom. They graciously let us crash at their place on Saturday night, so we could go full blast at the party. They’re totally awesome party animals, and we always have a lot of fun when we’re hanging out with them. I have an amazingly terrible photo of them from when they first started dating posted on my fridge. I could post it here, but I’ll spare them the embarrassment. That photo hangs on my fridge to remind me to be awesome 24/7. And that the style in the 90’s really isn’t as chic as I remember it to be…