Driving in a Winter Wonderland
It stopped snowing sometime in the middle of the night last night. By this morning, everything was clear and bright. My maple tree was bent right down to the hedge with the weight of the snow; I got out the broom and knocked it off. The branches sprung right back up. The arborvitae didn't fare as well. Its nice, trim point is now three straggly bent branches. It may recover, may not.
I put out extra bird seed; most feeding sites, under bushes and in trees, are gone, covered up in a foot of snow that looks like it's going to stay put for some time. MN knocked a foot of snow off the birdbath and I filled it up with hot water, to melt the ice.
The chickadees and the juncos were here early, hard at work gathering and hulling. Later on the fox sparrows came, a pair of them, looking big and fat beside the trim juncos. A few smaller sparrows dropped in for a while and I managed to spot a female red-shafted flicker as she came right up to my glass door. I didn't see her mate, nor the pair of Steller's jays that have been hanging around, but then, I did have other things to do.
MN went out to shovel off the car and dig it out of its slot in the parking lot. It took him the better part of an hour. I put off going out to start the engine and warm up the car until our building manager called everybody out to move the cars to the other side of the lot so that the little Bobcat could scrape it clean. After supper, that was, after dark.
What a job that was! I had to have help opening my car door; it was frozen shut. Several of the neighbours were in the same fix. The building manager was calling for someone to help him push his car out of the bank. One guy, having got his truck out early, ran around with a snow shovel, sometimes helping, sometimes getting in the way. The non-drivers stood around and kibitzed; MN was one of them, having done his share in the morning and still being stiff.
It was a cheerful scene, in spite of the difficult work, chilled noses and fingers. Nobody grumbled; this is a challenge we all have faced before and coped with. And we were all in the same boat, so to speak. A woman I barely knew came over with a good scraper and did my windows; others called out encouragement. Cars fired up, rocked themselves out of their slots and slowly crawled out of the driveway. Everybody smiled. And through and around it all, the Bobcat danced, backward and forward, scraping and pushing and carrying, lights glinting off the piles of snow and the silvery snow shovel.
The air was crisp and cold; it felt like it would be colder later on. Once the car was free and warm and the windows clear, I drove it down to fill the gas tank (to prevent condensation) and top up the engine anti-freeze. Usually here in the Lower Mainland, we don't need more than a minimum -5 degree protection, but they were telling us to expect -10, with a -20 chill factor; best to be prepared. I've had a cracked block once, up north. I don't want another. The gas station was out of windshield anti-freeze, so I had to go next to Home Depot, where they were about to close, but still had a few gallon bottles. Home again, driving slowly on icy roads, by shortly after 10 PM. Whew!
As a columnist in the Vancouver Sun wrote, some 15 years ago, Canadians are so lucky! Where else is it an adventure to get the car out of the parking lot?