Snow days – Snowmageddon 2015

Well, we’re anticipating the fourth major snowfall within the past 10 days here in southern New Brunswick. I must say, being retired allows me to experience snow days in a whole new way – more like when I was a child.

During my years of employment in the New Brunswick health care system, there was a notable degree of nonchalance about the safety of workers during “major weather events.” When schools and businesses were closed, buses and even snow ploughs were pulled off the road, and the RCMP were asking people to stay home, our employer required us to show up for work.

In the same circumstances, our patients were notified that they were not expected to attend their appointments.  No one is going to die or experience pain or deprivation if they have to delay a therapy session. Nevertheless, we were expected to ignore the RCMP’s warnings and risk our safety to show up on time, ready to do therapy on absent patients. And God forbid you should leave early to try to get home before dark, in the midst of a driving snowstorm. Needless to say, you could fire a cannon in the lobby of the hospital in the middle of a snowstorm and you certainly would not be in danger of hitting any of the “policy-makers.”

Now that I’m retired, I can celebrate snow again. It’s liberating to not have to worry about what time the plough will show up and how much I’ll have to shovel at the end of the driveway. I can avoid the white-knuckle drive to town and the stress of worrying all day about how much worse the drive home will be.

There’s nothing like the day after a good snowstorm to bring people out. Everywhere folks are bundled up and out shovelling or snowblowing. Kids are tobogganing. People are clambering over huge snowbanks to walk their dogs. I thoroughly enjoy taking my time shovelling the walkway and clearing off the deck. I lean on my shovel every few minutes and take a some deep breaths of fresh air while I watch the dogs cavorting in the drifts.  Our new-fangled ergonomic shovels are terrific. They really do save your back and allow you to dump the snow with a simple turn of the wrist and forearm rather than twisting your torso. When I’m finished, I find myself just nicely limbered up for taking the dogs for a walk.

What is it about snow-clearing that makes it feel more like play than work? I think it’s the adult version of building snow forts and digging tunnels. Maybe it’s because the shared experience of “a major weather event” makes us feel tough and resilient. Or perhaps it’s just relief that, so far, we haven’t lost power Whatever the reason, I like the fact that Mother Nature gives us a little tweak now and then and forces us to pay her due respect.


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