As I sit down to write this piece, all is calm, all is bright. Miss Ivy, the “guardian cat”, is snoring on the wing chair beside me while I sip my morning coffee. Just outside my window is the first major snowfall of this season.
What a great way to spend a weekend snow day. I am very fortunate indeed for this simple pleasure.
I look out my window and think to myself how pretty the winter wonderland is. Then I stop myself and say “Whoa! What happened to that guy who used to ‘hate’ winter?”
The answer is that things have changed quite a bit.
For so many years, I have equated snowfalls with stress, the fear of the unknown, and having to dig deeply for an extra dose patience.
I don’t know why in Ottawa the show must go on, even in inclement weather, but only in rare and very extreme weather conditions was work ever “cancelled”.
It always brings a smile to my face to see news reports from other cities that shut down when they had one or two inches of snow on the ground. “That would never happen here”, I always think to myself as one to two inches on the ground is just an average winter day in Ottawa. But it didn’t mean it was an easy day.
Back when I was taking the city bus to school or to work, a snowy day meant a longer commute time in an overheated bus, while wearing a winter coat, sweating like a pig, wishing I could take another shower by the time I got to my destination. It also meant the crap shoot of whether the bus will be late or if it will show up at all, meaning that extra layers of clothes were needed to stand outside waiting, to protect from the elements.
It also meant the risk of being late for an important commitment, which is excruciating for someone who prides himself on his punctuality.
But all one can do it make the best of it, get some good music going on the headphones, breathe deeply and just relax.
When I was driving to work (when my office relocated), it meant leaving the house earlier because there would inevitably be an accident (or two, or three…) on the main artery leading to the office. It meant a longer commute time, dealing with the unknown variable of drivers who don’t seemingly drive for the weather conditions.
But all one can do it make the best of it, get some good music going on the car’s music system (before hitting the road), breathe deeply and just relax.
And don’t get me started on freezing rain, which seems to bring out equal parts fearlessness and foolishness on the part of certain drivers.
Then, when I got home from my work day, after a long commute, it usually meant shoveling, until my back decided I was getting too old for that and I had to hire a service to take care of that for me.
Back when we used to travel for business, I always cringed when my manager would suggest I was needed in another city for meetings or to deliver training over the winter months. It was always a source of stress and apprehension as to whether the weather would favour traveling or whether I’d be spending the day in an airport due to cancelled or rescheduled flights, watching the plane’s wings get de-iced multiple times before we took off, worrying about meeting the ambitious schedule of commitments at my destination.
For those reasons, to me, winter was synonymous with struggle, and trying to accept that I had no control over the situation.
Being forced to work from home during Covid-19, took that struggle out of the equation. I didn’t have to leave any earlier to commute to my home office. I didn’t have to shovel a path to my home office. I didn’t have to wear extra layers. I didn’t have to yell from the back of an overcrowded overheated bus, to please turn off the heat.
Now, on a snow day, I can look out the window and finally start to admire the delicate, lacy beauty of the snow gently falling and clinging to the trees of our cute little country property, a little like the closing scene of a Hallmark Christmas movie.
This is not likely to change over the course of this winter, as signs are pointing to a continuing to work from home for a while longer.
With my retirement planned for June, by the time we get to next winter, commuting will be completely off the table. To me, retirement will be about developing my writing projects, catching up on my reading, catching up on the streaming shows I missed over the years and perfecting my recipe for gluten-free pie crust.
I won’t need to travel far for any of that, and when I do need to step out, I can plan it (or reschedule it) around the weather forecast.
This is not to say that if we get another winter like 2008, the year when the snowbanks were taller than me, or a winter that seems to drag on and on well into April or May, my appreciation for winter might come with limits.
But to be able to look out the window and enjoy the beauty, instead of feeling a sense of dread from having to drive in winter road conditions, is definitely an improvement and a joy in itself.
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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,