Snowy Day Memories

It was quiet this morning when I woke up. And calm, very calm. I could feel Harvey’s warm little body at the end of the bed, nestled against my legs. He loves sleeping in as much as I do. I stretched and opened my eyes. The daylight peeking through the blinds hinted at another drab winter day. Time to rise, no shine permitted today though.

I was very pleasantly surprised by what I saw when I stepped into the living room. Huge, incredibly fluffy snowflakes were swirling and twirling all around outside. The roads and rooftops had all been blanketed in crisp white snow. Watching it fall, fluttering to the ground in fat sticky flakes made me feel like I was inside a snow globe. It was beautiful, and about damn time.

snowy days

Our winter hasn’t been very magical at all this year. It’s been downright depressing actually. We’ve had barren, snowless grey days and bizarre temperature spikes, where it feels practically balmy one day then aggressively cold the next. We’ve had more rain than snow, and it’s been a bloody nuisance. I’d take snow over rain any day. It makes me so happy seeing actual snow, falling with purpose, taking off its coat to stay a while. My heart rejoiced watching the snow fall, unrelentingly, all morning long. There it is, there’s the winter I know and love. Winter is all about snow. I love the feeling of snow falling down all around me. Snowflakes sticking to my hair and coat. Tromping through the snow in thick clunky boots. Mischievously balling it up to toss at someone unsuspecting.

I remember winter stretching out forever when I was a kid. Long endlessly sunny and snowy days out in the burbs, my sisters and I laughing and playing with our neighbourhood friends. Building snow forts, making snow angels, having snowball fights, sledding down huge mountains of plowed snow in the library parking lot. Racing down the snow banks on our Krazy Karpets with reckless abandon. Being told to come in for a hot lunch, soup and grilled cheese, to warm us up. We’d come home, blasting through the front door like a pack of wild dogs, hungry and hyper from our morning adventures. Peeling ourselves out of our snowsuits, so impatient to be free of them. Boots, hats, mittens, socks, and scarves cast off and flung all over the foyer, Mom rounding up all those winter necessities and dispersing them throughout the house to dry over heating vents and radiators.

We’d scarf lunch down like we hadn’t eaten in days, recouping all the energy burned that morning. Stockpiling more energy, fuelling up, eager to get back outside again for more snowy fun. My imagination already a hundred miles ahead of itself, dreaming up an outlandish afternoon caper. That’s all you needed back then to be happy, a fresh snowfall, some pals, and your imagination.

I have fond memories of super special winter days when my dad would take us skating. He’d shovel off a sizeable patch of pond, over at the golf course, where nobody would bother us. My sisters and I had the whole pond to ourselves, around and around we’d go, skating until our legs were jelly. Skating until the sun started setting. Begging our dad for just five more minutes, please!

I remember a whole day spent sledding with my family, mom and dad, my sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins. Everyone was there. Again over at the golf course, at the back, off of the 16th or 17th hole I think. Where the snow was freshly fallen, completely untouched, not a track or footprint in it. Where nobody else would be, our secret sledding place. The hill was steep, so enormously steep. It was a long ride down and a difficult climb back up. Dad and the uncles would pull us kids back up the hill on the sleds when we whined about having to climb it, only to launch us back down it again once we reached the top. I watched with shock as my older sister went whizzing down the hill at an incredible speed, narrowly missing the trunk of a massive pine tree. A close call if ever there was one. I remember tripping up the hill, falling face first into it, getting the neckline of my coat full of snow. Being dusted off by my mom and sent back on my way. We all went back to my Oma and Opa’s house afterwards, to warm up by the wood stove and sip hot chocolate.

We still talk about that day at family get togethers. That perfect winter day following an enormous overnight snowfall. The sun was out and the air was crisp. The day primed for adventure. Everyones hearts overflowing with laughter and joy.

That’s the winter I know and love best, snowy and enchanting. Inviting endless possibility and glee, promising lots of lovely memories. I hope today that some lucky little kids got to have a day of perfect winter fun with their siblings and friends, like I got to plenty of times growing up.

Holiday Review

Well, there’s another Christmas come and gone. And a new year will dawn in a couple of days. I hope you kissed someone special under the mistletoe, ate entirely too much, and maybe even made an ass of yourself at a large family gathering. That’s what the holidays are there for, after all.

My holidays were fun, even though they veered off course a time or two.

The holidays started with the launching of a new tradition. My sister arranged a “Cousin’s Cocktail Christmas Party” and it was a great success. We got together with our cousins and their spouses/partners for some drinks, snacks, and general merriment. We then went to a comedy club to yuk it up. It was fun. Some of my best memories of Christmases past are of playing with my cousins. Our parents would get us all done up in fancy little outfits and try to impress upon us the importance of “behaving ourselves” at the dinner.

cousins at christmas

And obviously we’ve all grown up a whole lot since those days, but one thing that hasn’t changed is how much fun I still have with my cousins.

cousins christmas

Overnight we were harassed by an ice storm of disastrous proportions. We woke up to a world that had been completely consumed by ice.

ice storm

ice storm 2

ice storm 3

The storm took down countless trees and power lines. Over 250,000 homes in the city were without power for anywhere from 24 hours to a week. My cousin Ryan slept over at my sister’s place after the Christmas party, and awoke the next morning to find a tree had fallen onto his girlfriend’s car.

tree on car

The storm wreaked absolute havoc on the city, and I was glad to head north and out of the icy mess for a few days. But the fun just didn’t stop coming. On Christmas Eve I got sick. Really sick. Feverish, coughing, totally congested. I felt like a bag of assholes. My dad cooked up a feast and I barely even nibbled at it. My appetite was nowhere to be found. We then went to my mom’s for drinks and board games, which I normally really enjoy. But instead of having a bunch of Christmas fun with my family, I sat on the sidelines bundled in blankets, sweating buckets while a perpetual coughing fit racked my body. I was one pathetic sight.

On Christmas day, I was supposed to accompany D to his family get together. But I felt so goddamned shitty I couldn’t even get up off the couch without draining the last vestiges of my strength completely. I had to choose my battles wisely. D went on without me, and I stayed home. I laid on the couch and watched the entire 6 hours of The Stand miniseries on DVD. I had just finished the book, and my mom had the DVDs of the miniseries, so she let me borrow them. And they came in handy, that’s for damn sure.

The following day I felt well enough to go to lunch with D and his dad. At least I could be a part of some of his family celebrations, for his sake. But we didn’t do a lick of Boxing Day shopping. I usually love getting out there with all the other crazies, ripping shirts off of shelves like a maniac and bitching about getting cut off in the parking lot by some asshole who isn’t even looking. Jesus, he isn’t even looking! What is he, BLIND OR SOMETHING?

But even though I wasn’t in peak physical condition for enjoying the food, the shopping, or the gatherings, I was still plenty good at enjoying presents. And you know Smash loves presents. Just a recap for anyone who may not be familiar with this facet of my personality: I FUCKING LOVE OPENING PRESENTS. I can’t stand unopened presents. They make me insane. My fingers positively itch with the desire to rip and tear if they get within five feet of something that’s been wrapped up. It’s a compulsion.

I opened a lot of great gifts this year.

presents

Some of the gift highlights:

Star Wars Salt n Pepper Shakers!

star wars salt and pepper

Enormous Batman Mug!

batman mug

New Hobo Mittens!

mittens

Bitchin’ New Watch!

watch

A Big Bottle of Booze!

booze

His and Hers Robot Pillowcases! (My friend The Magpie embroidered these for me and they are absolutely stunning, I fucking love them to bits.)

pillowcases

And A Shitload of Chocolate!

chocolate

And I got tons of other great stuff too. I’m lucky. I have a lots of people in my life who love me and want to give me things that I love for christmas. Things that make me squeal with delight like a little kid. I’m probably the easiest person on the planet to buy gifts for. I’m easily pleased and I’m not picky. If I can have a thrilling time shredding a gift of its wrapping, I’m set. And as much as I love tearing into a pile of presents, I love giving great presents too. I know that everything I picked out for my loved ones this year was well received and will be cherished forevermore.

Even though the weather was truly frightful and my immune system totally flaked out on me, I managed to find some enjoyment in the holidays this year. Got some fantastic gifts, started a fabulous new tradition, and I took some time to plan my next big moves for the upcoming year. I’m really looking forward to the new year. I’ve got big plans brewing for 2014. It’s going to be my year. I’ve got a list of goals a mile long and I am going to be dogged in my pursuit of every single one.

Peace out 2013, it’s been a slice.

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.