My mother, Lorna (who is 5’1″), in front of a snowbank somewhere in the vicinity of the Manse, in February 1971. Back when winter could be counted on to bring serious amounts of snow. (Photo probably by my grandfather, J.A.S. Keay)
Hello from the far side of Christmas! I feel very badly about not having posted these past few days – recounting how Christmas at the Manse unspooled, among other things – but I’ve been sick with the flu since before the big day and have not until now found the energy to fire up the Mac and try to think of something half-intelligent to say. I expect that many readers may have gone through a similar low-energy situation this Christmas; flu and colds seem to have been everywhere. Before long I will recount Christmas, but I await photo contributions from Raymond (I was feeling too crappy to take more than a handful of photos). In the meantime, let’s talk about something even more topical, especially if you happen to be in Montreal this Friday night: snow.
Our street, last night: believe it or not, there is a car under all that snow. Aren’t you glad you aren’t the person who has to dig it out?
Raymond and I drove home from Queensborough yesterday through the blizzard you’ve probably all heard about, a scary (and long) drive featuring a steady steam of cars and tractor-trailers – and one bus, one ambulance, and even one snowplow – off the road and stuck in the ditch. Was it a relief to get to Montreal? Well, yes – except the city had been blanketed by a record snowfall, approaching 50 centimetres, the streets were a disaster, the sidewalks worse, and finding a place to park impossible. Just what you want when you’ve got a car full of Christmas to unload and only street parking at the best of times.
Anyway, we managed. One always does. And the huge snowfall brought back a couple of good growing-up-at-the-Manse memories.
One is of how our Queensborough-area neighbour Bill Holgate would every now and then, after a big snowfall, come unannounced and blow the snow out of the driveway. Normally it was all about shovelling for us, and we four kids had to do our share to keep the walkway, driveway and mailbox cleared out. But it was a big long driveway, and after a really heavy snowfall it was a huge job. So what a delight when out of the blue on an evening like that (it’s always evening for the snowblowing events in my memory) Bill would show up with his big tractor-driven snowblower and clear it all away. And the best part (for us kids) was not even the fact that we wouldn’t have to shovel; it was cavorting under the blowing snow as Bill did the work. Snowblowers were not that common then – certainly nobody had the kind that you operated just by walking behind it – and the whole operation was just so big and noisy and exciting! And it was so kind of Bill to come and clear out the snow at the minister’s house. Of course he never charged my parents any money for it.
And the other memory, quite possibly coloured by the fact that I was little then and no longer am, is just of how much more snow there was in those days – see the photo at the top of this post. But then again, doesn’t every old fogey say that there used to be more snow back in his or her day? And doesn’t what Raymond and I came home to yesterday kind of undermine that things-aren’t-what-they-used-to-be argument?
And more to the point, am I turning into an old fogey?