Long-time readers of my blog know that I was born in Ohio, and spent the first eight years of my life there. Winter in Ohio is kind of “hit and miss”…sometimes you have snow, but not very much, and sometimes it gets cold, but not very cold (at least, not by Canadian standards, where I live now!)…
When there was snow in Ohio, my brother, Jeff, and I would put on our snowpants and boots, and take out our sleds, which had metal runners…generally, they didn’t work very well because more than three inches is a lot of snow in Ohio, and doesn’t happen a lot! We had better luck with our red “flying saucer”…which looked a lot like a giant Frisbee with rope handles. Our back yard in Oregon (a suburb of Toledo) had a big hill which was fine for “flying.”
We moved to Ontario when I was eight…Jeff and I were ecstatic to live where there was snow pretty much continuously from mid-November through February (and sometimes March)! Our parents bought us a big wooden toboggan, and we also had Crazy Carpets to use by ourselves. We had lots of snow the winter of 1970-71…my dad would pile the snow he shovelled out of our driveway at the end of it, where there was a deep ditch. With the snowpile being about ten or twelve feet high, we had a great long run from the top of the pile down into the ditch…often we didn’t even bother using vehicles…we’d just slide on the bums of our snow-encrusted layers of jeans (we’d outgrown our snowpants by then – we’d just put on 2 or 3 pairs of pants and play until we were soaked to the skin!).
Here's a picture of Jeff and I standing on top of our snowpile in the winter of 1970-71...yes, those are power/phone lines beside our heads!
We had great fun sliding behind/beside the Rednersville house too! I remember at least one occasion when my brother and I were on the toboggan together and going very fast, when suddenly, we stopped dead and we both flew off the toboggan landing face-first in the snow. We weren’t hurt, and couldn’t stop laughing because when I emerged from the snowbank, the snow had packed itself into my glasses!
There was a big field beside the house. One winter, we’d had freezing rain, which had created a beautiful crust on about eight inches of snow…it was so slippery, you could barely walk on it! Our family decided to take advantage of the excellent conditions and got out the toboggan. That was the only time I recall my mom actually going out sliding with us (Dad came out quite often). Mom sat on the toboggan by herself, and Dad let go when she was ready. A minute or two later, we heard a thump and a blood-curdling yell: “Dave…I think I broke my back!” My mom had “found” the one apple tree in the middle of the field! Dad made his way out to the scene of the accident, loaded Mom back onto the toboggan, and pulled it to the car. After we were all in, we left for the emergency room. Mom’s back wasn’t broken, just badly bruised!
We were lucky at the Rednersville house to have 43 acres of land with a big hill behind us. With our friends, Jimmy and Dougie, we could go to the top of the hill, and slide several hundred feet, almost all the way back to the house. Crazy Carpets were the best vehicle for that, once the trail was established. One winter, there was a friendly dog around which we christened “Wolfie” because he sort of looked like one. Wolfie used to like to jump on our backs as we hurtled down the hill on our stomachs on our Crazy Carpets. The worst injury we ever got was ending up in thorn bushes!
A couple of times, my best friend, Angela, took me out “Skidooing” in the woods behind her house. We were about eleven, I think (snowmobiles were a lot smaller then). That was always fun! My dad hated it when snowmobilers trespassed on our property…he’d go out and yell at them until they left!
I moved to New Brunswick in 1984…winter was different again…you could have snow in late October, right through April sometimes! There is also not much of a spring…you can literally go from wearing your parka to wearing shorts (and back again, sometimes several times). There is no gradual warming like we had in Ontario.
I lived in Moncton in February of 1992 when an all-time snowfall record was broken…Moncton had a total of fourteen feet of snow that month in THREE storms. The biggest storm was on February 1st. At the time, I worked at a non-profit agency which was about a 10-block walk from our apartment, and we didn’t have a car. Buses were off the road. I walked to work, wearing a skirt (I was wearing other clothes too!). When we got to the building, there was a snowbank about twelve feet high in front of it! I met one of my co-workers outside, and together we decided to go around the corner and get a coffee, in hopes that our boss might arrive soon, equipped with a shovel to dig a path to the front door! We had our coffee, and went back to work…everything was as it was when we left. Since it was already past time to start work, I decided to bite the bullet, and climb the snowbank! I probably didn’t resemble a mountain goat very much in my long black wool coat, and knee-high boots as I clambered up the hill. When we arrived in the office, there was our boss, clad in a snowmobile suit…she had come in the back door, and hadn’t thought about us trying to get in the front! I never liked her!
I tried to find public domain photos of the big Moncton snowstorm on the Internet, but failed. I remember a paint store on St. George St. cutting “windows” in the snowbank in front of their store and setting paint cans in them to let people know they were there!
Winters in Moncton could be very cold too…I remember one year that we had three solid weeks of windchills between -30 and -36 C. (which is almost the same temperature in Fahrenheit). School was never cancelled for cold weather, and every day I walked Kaylee the three blocks to her elementary school. It’s a wonder we didn’t turn into Popsicles!
I moved to Saint John, New Brunswick in November of 1997. Winters are milder in this area due to the proximity to the ocean. There are a lot of freeze/thaw cycles, and a lot more ice. We had some freezing rain in November of 2007 when my dad was undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer. About 6:30 a.m., he was walking to the bus stop to go to the hospital, and ended up flat on his back in the driveway two doors from our house. He got up, and continued on his way. While Dad was having his treatment, he mentioned that he’d had a fall and that he might need an X-ray. The X-ray confirmed that he’d cracked five ribs. I didn’t find out about the accident until several hours later…when I asked Dad why he didn’t just come back home, he said, “I didn’t want to mess up their schedule at radiation!” Sometimes, my dad’s so stoic, I just want to shake him! I was glad he wasn’t more seriously injured though!
We moved to Hammond River the following year…there’s a little more snow here than in town, and it gets a little colder, but we love it! I’ve got the best snowplow guy in the world, which is a good thing because our driveway is a quarter mile long…way too much to shovel! He always has us plowed out by 7 a.m. When we can get them off their computers, the kids go out sliding, or skating at the little pond down the road. Here’s a photo of Jim and I taken in January of 2009…not much snow then:
Wendy and Jim beside our house in Hammond River...that's the back yard behind us, and the view of the hills on the other side of the river...
It’s been raining all week, with more to come…I hope we get some snow before Christmas!