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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Ross’s Ramblings: NOTL snowblower jockeys conquered this year’s epic Canadian snowfalls

They’re everywhere. They’re everywhere.

Is it just me, or has there been a dramatic increase in snowblower usage this winter? So many driveways and sidewalks have been groomed to perfection so soon after the last snowflakes landed.

This has been such an authentic Canadian winter, especially for someone who grew up in Kirkland Lake and Winnipeg. Real snow dumps and really cold weather.

With recent rain and mild temps, most of the snow is gone. But beware the Ides of March – spring may be around the corner but winter might not be done with us yet.

Walks have been so refreshing, with so much snow, really cold weather and so much sunshine. Evening walks, wearing warm reflective winter gear, of course, offer the advantage of looking in windows.

Chiropractors are no doubt busy, helping “slip and fall” victims. Darned ice under a dusting of snow. It happens so fast,and hopefully not while walking alone.

Instead of remembering the ongoing global deadly pandemic or Putin, let’s call this the Year of the Snowblower. Despite several major dumps of snow, local driveways not only were cleared promptly, but the edges looked like the boards of a hockey rink. Smooth, almost sculptured, like a perfectly trimmed hedge in the Hamptons, or #4 green at the NOTL Golf Club.

Even as the last snowflakes are drifting down, satisfied NOTL snowblowers stand back and admire the results of their toil, feeling satisfied and a bit macho. Time permitting, many of them nip over to clear the snow at a neighbour’s house. What’s a fair compensation? A tuna casserole? Four tallboy cans of Oast House Barnraiser?

There has been lots of chatting between folks and snow blower operators. “The Leafs are a sure thing this year. I am sick and tired of wearing a mask and watching TV.” I suggest that many locals have met many locals for the first time this winter, while walking a dog or finishing up with the snowblower.

And, isn’t it nice that Husqvarnas and other machines are muffled and fairly quiet? Unlike power lawn mowers and those gawdawful leaf blowers? 

Next winter, let’s copy the plowing matches that farmers enjoy each summer all over Ontario. It would be unique and such fun to have a snowblowing match in Ryerson Park, with prizes for straightest snowblowing and best figure eight. And while we’re at it, a snowman competition for the youngsters and families.

This winter, I have learned a new word. “Windrow.” That’s what snowplows create at the edge of sidewalks and the end of driveways. Our NOTL roads department has done yeoman work this winter, but, of course, many cranky residents were chagrined that their street and sidewalk didn’t get plowed first.

The plows and crews were everywhere, but obviously they couldn’t be everywhere at the same time. Attaboys and thanx.

Having said that, on the evening after the first major snowfall, Jan. 17, I think, I was out for a very slow drive around town. Many sidewalks were already cleared, but at the major intersection of King and Queen, pedestrians were stymied by snow piles at least four feet high. Unpassable. Other Queen Street corners presented the same frustration. No way to get by for most of us without crampons and ropes.

For no other reason than that I had nothing else to do, I drove out to our arenas in Virgil. Highway 55 was totally clear, as was Creek Road. The rinks were still closed, but the parking lots were snowflake free. Totally clear. Same with the areas around the town hall and the works department. Perhaps for good reason, but those optics are bad.

Rambling now to a close, I will limn the ultimate snowblower event of the winter. The morning after the first big snowstorm in January, our secondary street had not been plowed. At about noon, I went for a walk in the fairly deep snow. What I saw was so wonderfully Canadian.

Three determined and well-meaning neighbours had organized themselves and were snowblowing in formation. Three abreast! Like you see on the QEW or the 401 during major snowstorms. With each pass down the street, they were clearing a swath about five feet wide.

After several passes down our 400-metre street, it was passable. All they need for next time is flashing blue lights on their toques.

Cheers to snowblowers. And cheers to the snow blowers.

What a town! We are so fortunate to live in Canada … in 2022.

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