The Jumbings of an ice-bound Haligonian

I’m sitting here with coffee in hand reading through what has become a common theme in my Facebook feed; weather grief. There are so many opinions about yet another school day being missed. Some roads look clear, we’ve just had a long weekend, how much time can we miss before children’s educations are negatively impacted, parents need to work and where will their children go for the day, and…we live in Nova Scotia so we shouldn’t let a little snow stop us. (Read any news article for a hundred reasons more). We are however, still in the midst of clearing up from one of the worst kinds of winter weather…a snowstorm followed by rain and flash freezing. This means ice, ice and more ice, is now coating every inch of our city.

I was relieved that our regional school board, HRSB, cancelled today; my school follows suit. I have a great 9th floor view onto a main roadway. At first glance it looks great out there this morning; the sun is shining brightly and we are snow-flurry free. Another glance down to the road however, paints a different story. I have been watching people spend 40 minutes pounding ice off their car to then find their wheels frozen in three solid inches of ice. Cars turning onto our somewhat plowed street are skidding on ice patches they simply couldn’t see while people who are trying to get to the bus are walking with their arms stretched out as if walking a tightrope. They appear to be holding their breath with each step they make. I have noticed myself silently cheering them along til they finally reach the bus stop.

It seems as though no matter how well our city plans, shifts its clearing routine and hires new contractors, the weather itself adopts a brand new winter plan of grief. It makes me think of the flu. Each year the new flu vaccine is developed based on the strain from the year before in the hopes that it will lower flu incidents in the upcoming year. Some swear it works while others, well, you probably know people who say the flu shot didn’t help them a bit and was a waste of time. But scientists and doctors keep trying to develop a vaccine that will work for the next year. And it takes a year to find out how well they did. It seems like the city’s winter plan is a bit like that. They shift and re-assign and hire new contractors and then we get hit with yet another new kind of winter.

I’m sure some roads are cleared well by now. More roads are not. Sidewalks and walking paths are not. I’m relieved to be home, and not because it is another day off, but because I know the city still has a way to go before it is safe again for vehicles and for people. The fanciest boots, ice picks and warm clothes do not seem to protect enough from this ice. Snow is frustrating to clear. Ice, solid ice, is a nightmare. Large trucks and excavators have been spotted flipped over, have blown motors and even the scrapers bent off. There is no quick fix for ice. I saw a plea yesterday from a company willing to pay a high hourly price to anyone with an excavator. They posted their request a number of times but hadn’t gotten any takers because I’m guessing everyone who had this equipment was already out working.

As a teacher, I will find a way to make sure my students stay on track with the year’s learning plan. I also know lots of kids will drive their parents crazy today complaining of being stuck at home. My son may well be one of them. That’s okay. It can be a learning lesson for him in being patient and how sometimes, no matter how badly you want to do something, you just have to wait.

I love my city, in spring, summer, autumn, and yes, even when coated in winter’s ice.

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