It seems like every other day, there's a big enough, bad enough snowfall to make driving dangerous and slow down transit to the point where it's just miserable to try to go anywhere. The snow is so deep and heavy and pushed up onto the sidewalks by the snowplows (when they finally come around) that walking is not a decent alternative if you want to get anywhere fast.
But as with anything tedious and troublesome, it has reached the point of absurdity that transforms it from distressing to hilariously outlandishly wonderfully weird. At least that's my spin on it.
We had a "third time's the charm" experience last night that had everything to do with driving places in the snow. The whole family is on vacation from work and school, and there's really no place we absolutely must go, but sometimes, something happens that makes you want to go anyway, despite the snow. Here are the three incidents and their silly culmination:
First time: December 21 was a night thick with snow. It had been snowing all day without cease. At least a foot of fresh snow lay on the ground. The plows and sanding trucks had been around, but they couldn't keep up. I had skipped church in the morning - it was already that snowy by 9am. Alex had called in to work to say he couldn't make it (we didn't want him to be stranded at midnight at the theatre). We had spent a homey day baking, napping and shoveling. But there was a benefit concert at a nearby church, put on by some of Fi's friends. They decided not to cancel and to go on with the show. They were raising funds for the Union Gospel Mission, and they thought even a small show was better than doing nothing. We couldn't stand to think of them playing to an empty house, so we went. Fiona and Andy and I drove out in the snow. We picked up two of Fiona's friends and we slogged and slid our way to the concert. We were glad to see about 50 other people make it, and everyone contributed generously, so $600 was raised. The show was great. We would have been sorry to miss it. And we made it home - just barely. Fi and the girls and I got out of the car and walked the last hill up to our house, while Andy churned and slithered the car up the slippery, snowy slope. We were home and safe, and glad we went out.
Second Time: Christmas Eve was another crazy snowy day. Seeing the blizzard coming, we had done our final grocery shopping for Christmas dinner the previous day. There was no reason to go out this day, except Christmas Eve service at our church. It was our minister's first Christmas Eve service with us, and her first as an ordained minister. We have never missed a Christmas Eve service, and the family was signed up to welcome people as they arrived. Fiona and I talked about walking, the roads were so bad for driving, but Andy convinced us that this plan was probably more difficult and dangerous than driving. He decided to give it a try. Dressed up in our church best, and packing snow boots, mittens and winter coats just in case we were stranded, we set out. We made it, arriving early at the church. Andy spun donuts in the parking lot. That was fun. Inside it was warm and bright. We welcomed about 25 people to the service. Usually the church is packed on Christmas Eve, but with the weather it was different. Only 2 members of the choir made it, so we could hear ourselves singing, which is always a little unnerving. But it felt very special to be there, and be part of something rare and intimate and just a little bit risky. The service was short, and we were safely home by 8pm. The road up the hill to our house was slippery again, but somehow Andy made it to the top, this time with all of us along for the ride. It was a Christmas Eve we will not forget.
The third time: Last night - Friday. Alex was scheduled to work. He didn't want to call in "snowed out" again. Andy agreed to drive him to work. In the meantime, Fi was at Metrotown shopping with friends when the skytrain stopped operating. Her friend's mom drove out to rescue them, and Andy stopped by the friend's house on the way back from dropping Alex off, to bring Fiona home. Andy, Fi and I had reservations for the panto at the Metro Theatre - way on the other side of Vancouver. We were reluctant to cancel. The weather had hit that show hard too, and we didn't want to let them down. But while Andy drove the kids through the still-falling thick, damp snow, he realised it would be too risky to drive all that way, especially with Alex waiting for us at the theatre in Coquitlam. Now totally unable to get up the hill to our house, Andy circled around and parked the car on the roadway above our neighbourhood. We cancelled our panto seats, and decided to go out to Alex's work and catch a movie, then drive home together when he finished work. The walk up to the neighbourhood above us in a tunnel of snow was mysterious and magical. It felt like an adventure. The snow was turning to rain as we drove to the theatre around 7:30, turning the deep accumulation even more heavy and even more slippery. We arrived at the theatre to find most people hadn't risked going out to a movie. The place was uncharacteristically quiet for a Friday night at Christmas vacation time. We checked in with Alex, bought our tickets for the Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and settled in to enjoy the show, trying to put the snow and slippery roads out of our minds. Outside, heavy accumulations on tree tops were causing tree limbs to fall, in some cases onto power lines. Inside, just as the movie trailers finished, the power went out in the theatre. The emergency lights flashed on and then off, and a theatre employee with a dying flashlight came in to advise us to sit tight. If the lights came on soon, they would resume the show. If not, we would be evacuated in a safe and orderly manner, and issued passes to come to the movie another day. Inside the auditorium, a hundred cell phone and ipod screens lit up as people amused themselves in the dark. Someone with an impressive light source provided a hilarious shadow puppet show on the darkened theatre screen. Someone else with a laser pointer joined in, entertaining the crowd with an improvised, interactive display with the shadow puppet person. A few minutes later we were instructed to leave. As we were leaving, the electricity came back on, but it was too late to resume the show. We were informed that the theatre would close for 30 minutes, then re-open for the later round of movies. We decided to drive home. We hoped Alex would be let off early, but they needed him until 11, so Andy brought Fi and me home, then turned around to get Alex. The evening felt like a wash, and an exhausting one for Andy, the snow chauffeur, but again, we were all safe and sound. Andy parked the car up above again at 11:30pm. During the night the snow plow came, so this morning he had to dig it out. Later, he got a tow up our hill into the complex behind a neighbour's truck, then spent several hours clearing and salting the hill with a bunch of neighbours. They also had to cut away several tree limbs that had collapsed onto the road.
We hope that the third time is the charm, and that we will have no more impossible snow nights. I have promised myself that I will stay home even if something is happening that is hard to resist. Enough is enough, and we've had our three times out in the worst weather and road conditions. Now it is time for puddles and hard rain and no more snow. Too bad the weather report does not agree.
question: how have you been getting around in the snow?
mompoet - thinking a dogsled would be good about now