Friday, December 12, 2008

Some fretting about snow

Sidewalk art in Yaletown a few weeks ago (and Pater's jeans)

A little tidying-up/catch-up around here as I wait for the snow that's coming this afternoon and will complicate my travel over to Vancouver. Snowfalls always put my nerves on edge, worrying about things I'm not going to be able to get to, trying to decide whether or not I should take the car, whether this or that will be cancelled. Once we get a definitive dump of the white stuff, I end up happily surrendering to a day or two of slowed-down activities, walks in a white world that smells ozone-cold-clean, fireside book days. But this preliminary stage of waiting, this always stokes my anxieties.
Today, for example, I'm fretting because I'll have a light suitcase to haul so I'd rather take the car, but the Upper Levels Highway that I'll enter as soon as I get off the ferry north of Vancouver is a sinuous road hugging the hillside, and although it's cleared as befits a 4-lane highway, snowfall's always heavier there (in fact, bus routes along the Upper Levels get cancelled once or twice each winter, mainly because of the climbs to reach the Highway). We have all-season radials on the car, and they're not bad in the snow, but they're not winter tires. Taking the bus should be a no-brainer. I can park the car at the ferry terminal and buy bus tickets on board -- be downtown within minutes of when I'd arrive with the car. But then I'll be wheeling my suitcase through 7 or 8 blocks of slushy, pedestrian-trod snow. And of course then we won't have the car for zipping back and forth to visit our little one. On the other hand, it is only 7 or 8 blocks of suitcase-wheeling, and we can walk, if not zip, for the visiting, and it wouldn't hurt me to slow down a bit anyway, and public transit is the better environmental choice anyway. So really, once I get the fussing out of the way, I'll be fine, and might even enjoy the pretty scenes the snow's sure to create.
Except . . . do you mind? . . . one last fuss before I just let it go? . . .

My last exam of the term is this afternoon and our campus is on a hillside. I know all this fussing seems foolish to those of you from colder, snowier places, but we combine a peculiar kind of wet, heavy snow with roads that curve and roller-coaster-climb-and-descend and cities that budget modestly for snow clearance and are reluctant to blow that budget on overtime early in the season. Add that to a campus with limited, hillside parking and many young drivers with limited experience in winter driving . . . Given that the snow hasn't started falling yet, at almost 7 in the morning, I doubt my students' exam will be cancelled for a campus closure this afternoon, but it's a possibility, along with the headache of rescheduling. Still, I suppose, if that's the worst that could happen, what am I fussing about? Okay! So thanks for listening, I think I've worked that one out. I have to drive to campus, because I'll be hauling 15 pounds or so of exam booklets away to mark over the weekend, so I'll be anxiously watching snowfall all through the exam, envisioning my slip-sliding down the hill to the ferry. But after that, I'll park my car, board the ferry, grab a bus, and above all, let the worrying be done.

Although I still can't help minding that now I might miss the 5 ferry, and if I miss the 5 ferry, I'll probably be too late to see Nola, who B&A are bringing over for us to cuddle while they go to a Christmas party for a few hours. And yes, she'll be just fine with Granddad (who already hogged the cuddle time last weekend!), and yes, I'll still have time to see her this weekend, but the potential disruption of my plans . . . that's what I always fuss over when snow is on the horizon -- which is probably why it's good for me, letting go and all that.


Did you know I was a fussing, fretting, worrier, or have I hidden that facet of my personality so far? And how do you feel about snow? Are you one of those blasé Easterners who laughs at us Lotusland wimps and our snow-driving failures? Or do you live somewhere that never gets a flake?
Interesting -- I've just checked last year's December posts (one of the great features of keeping a blog is that I can see what I was doing last year at this time) and noted that we had an early December snowfall that shut down Vancouver traffic and required me to buy new boots. I remember that we enjoyed an early Christmas celebration made more festive by the snow AND that the snowfall stopped bus service to the ferry. So I was trapped temporarily, but there were big benefits. Learn from experience, I tell myself, and I'm still working at it . . .

12 comments:

  1. We must be polar opposites.
    I never think more than 5 mins ahead, which explains why I am always late, always forget birthdays and live life generally rather suprised. Emin is convinced I plan eveything, he project plans his days and weeks and so cannot comprehend that I do not. This creates HUGE amounts of friction as it did with my mother before him!

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  2. Snow here generally means a little of the white stuff with ice underneath, followed by meltoff, and ice afterwards. Not pleasant, and not as easy to manage as Northerners believe it is.

    I can so relate to what you're going through, but at least you have mass transit.

    Worse comes to worse, take a snow day and have a toddy to keep warm!

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  3. Alison: In our family, Paul is the one who'll arrive at the airport 30 minutes before a flight, while I'd prefer to be there at least 90! Somehow we've managed to put up with each other's different temperaments for almost 35 years, but it can be a challenge!
    Nancy: Those sound like tricky driving conditions, and I recognize the exasperation with those from other places who are dismissive of what they don't really understand. Here the problem is that snow is only ever a few days and a few degrees away from being rain, and there is inevitably a huge slush factor made worse by freezing -- just a big yuck! so the toddy sounds better and better . . .

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  4. YOu know that something about your reflecting on what you were doing a year ago today and my remembering of that post made me realize that I have known you for over a year. That is so wild. It is such a strange thing to know someone and their likes, dislikes, passions, etc. for over a year and have never met them. Sorry for my tangent, by your post triggered it.

    I hope the weather is kind to you and that you have a lovely weekend.
    Oh, and driving in snow doesn't scar me. It is ice that I am terrified of.

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  5. Weaselly One: I know! Isn't it an odd friendship -- we must meet someday, absolutely!

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  6. I look forward to it!!

    Side note: Today I cannot get through a sentence without several typos. I am not sure why that is. But, I hope you know I was trying to say it doesn't "scare me" not "scar me". And I meant to say "but your post" not "by your post". I think I need to quit commenting for a while until my typoitis is healed.;-)

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  7. So sorry that you're going to have to reschedule your last exam before the break. Hopefully, it won't take too much to reschedule it.

    Up until this year, I didn't worry about driving in snow or ice - but after an encounter with black ice while in the Interior 2 weeks ago, I've become a nervous winter driver.

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  8. I'm from the far North (growing up) and now live in a place with full winters. Coping with snow, ice and freezing rain takes planning, special gear and slowing down. You are wise to think about hazards and weigh options.

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  9. I can tell you exactly how I feel about snow. I loved it when I was a little girl. It meant sledding, bonfires, and missing school. Now that I am older, I think the weather has changed and in North Carolina, at least my part, we may have one or two snows a year at the most. I think it is beautiful and I love one or two days of it. After a few days of the kids coming in and out, in and out, tracking snow and mud all over the carpet, I have had enough.

    I am terrified to drive in it. Around here, it's not the snow I am scared of, but we get a lot of ice storms and, it when the sun comes out during the day it melts the snow, then it freezes overnight and when you wake up the next day, you have icy roads. Since we do not get much snow, the city doesn't have the manpower or finances to clear the roads.
    I am also afraid of car travel in the winter, because I am afraid a snow storm will come up when I am traveling and I will have to drive in it. Whew.

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  10. Chris: It's such a pain! You can imagine how the students feel about having to come back next week when they thought they'd be done.
    Duchesse: I'm glad to hear someone with your winter experience validate my caution -- I'll have to tell you soon of my experience with a sudden intense storm and only the all-season tires. Suffice it to say that my car is abandoned in a safe place and I'm depending on public transit and shank's mare!
    Julianne: Although your location is obviously a very different climate from mine, those driving conditions sound similar. Our snow is generally slushy and also often accompanied with a day or two by freezing rain -- there's almost always a big ice factor involved. I'm not a fan -- leave the snow on the mountain, I say!

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  11. See here I am worrying about the prospect of snow and you already have snow and we are waiting for it and it is all a jumble in my head. I don't think people can judge the conditions when they don't know the place.

    As for me I love snow when it is falling, but the gray whiteness of winter is something else and the loveliness never lasts. I am in the Northeastern US but we never have snow all winter and it turns into a slippery, have frozen icy mess all to quickly. Often we get a little snow followed by or preceeded by sleet. Then we get melt and runoff and more sleet. I guess I like snow more in the abstract than in its actuality.

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  12. That's exactly the kind of fretting I do, Mardel, for very similar reasons. It's unusual for us to have this protracted cold, and the snow does look really pretty right now, but next week when the temperature starts to rise and the snowfall turns to rain, we're going to have a horrid, slippery mess. Meanwhile, it's tough to get around. Still, I'm trying to get out for walks in it while it's so gorgeous and pristine. . .

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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