Snow a blessing and a burden

Here in the West Kootenay we’ve been hit with an incredible amount of snow this year. For awhile, it seemed as if it snowed every night and then began again partway through the day. For many of us, snow is a burden and we curse it as a four-letter word.

Here in the West Kootenay we’ve been hit with an incredible amount of snow this year. For awhile, it seemed as if it snowed every night and then began again partway through the day. For many of us, snow is a burden and we curse it as a four-letter word.

For the dedicated skiers and boarders, though, this snow has been a blessing. In fact, until the recent warm spell, I’ve heard nothing but glowing reports about Red Mountain and Whitewater — unbelievable powder.

Two of my sons went boarding recently at Red and said it was like very heaven itself. My friend David loves when it snows here in Castlegar because that means he will have glorious soft new snow to swish through up on the mountains.

Where snow becomes a problem is in the early morning, particularly if it’s snowed many centimetres and I haven’t allowed enough time to shovel the driveway. If the snow is powdery and feather-light, I don’t need much time to clear the way for my vehicles. But with warmer weather and wet snow, often I don’t get it all shovelled.

Another major difficulty occurs at the end of the driveway. With a lot of overnight snow, the city snow-plow trucks push a huge ridge of snow across the end of my driveway, and then the city sidewalk plow creates another ridge or two.

Fortunately, I have a neighbour who has an ATV with a blade on the front, and he has been a Good Samaritan and cleared the end of my driveway every time it’s blocked. Here is a man who with his machine has pushed the burden of snow from both my driveway and my mind. The rest of the snow is then easy to remove.

A week ago while I was shovelling, I heard a wild shrieking in my birch trees. Much snow had accumulated overnight and was still falling, so I had a hard time locating where the noise came from. And then I heard it again and saw a grey bird with a rust-brown tail flit from branch to branch. It was a red-shafted flicker having a hernia because it should have been south somewhere, and here it was caught in a winter that wouldn’t stop snowing. Its shrieking indicated it was not happy with the snow, reflecting somewhat my own mood that morning.

A few days ago, it was excessively cold and the snow wouldn’t stop dropping from the skies. I looked up from shovelling to see a grey squirrel emerge from the woodpile in the back yard. Now I know we’re supposed to watch for ground hogs and their shadows in two weeks’ time, but a squirrel?

It looked around as if to say, “Where’s the greenery?” Then it scurried up the nearest tree, bobbed its head a bit, and surveyed the scene. I thought I could see it shivering from where I was standing, but squirrels seem to have these trembling, jerky movements at the best of times, so perhaps I was wrong.

Next, it took to zipping up and down that tree as if it were in a contest to race up and down as many times as possible. Through the haze of snow, I thought perhaps I was hallucinating, but no, there it skittered again. Finally, it took a long look at the snow and slid back into the woodpile whence it had come.

Truly, it was not a good time to gather nuts, so it left the burden of snow to us humans to figure out. Today it’s raining on top of the snow and the driveway’s been clear for two days, so I’ll just burrow deeper into this chair and dream a bit.