by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.
We Canadians are a greedy lot when it comes to grasping at any hint of Spring. And with good reason! Having sustained the accustomed misery of wet November weather (made all the more mournful by its conjunction with Remembrance Day), then the mercurial ballyhoo of December, followed by the let-down of January and its eternally darkened skies, it’s small wonder that by mid-February we’re more than ready to heave the shovel and broom in exchange for some dry pavement and longer daylight hours. Quite frankly I consider winter an abomination! It’s all very well to romanticize winter by imagining huge piles of fluffy white snow and a horse-drawn sleigh; but the reality for us cave-dwellers at least is decidedly dissimilar. It is instead filthy slush, freezing rain, overburdened rooftops, endless sand and salt-stained everything from your shoes to your clothing to your car. Keeping one’s quarters and place of business anywhere near clean in winter is perpetual enslavement.
But as I say, furnish us long-suffering mortals the atomic suggestion of abatement and we’re off and running as though there were never a winter at all! How readily we abandon our depressive winter state of mind in lieu of the optimism of Spring. Our revived enthusiasm is likely to be short-lived for we all know the storms of March – even April – can be quite overwhelming. Nonetheless even the smallest particle of Spring-like weather – perhaps a mere current of running water beside a grungy bank of snow – provides an instant buoyancy and relieving change of heart. Hibernation is of course unthinkable, but I confess the thought had crossed my mind. Instead I gratify myself with a wistful glance at the now small scraps of ice in the River where once there floated immense mobile islands of the stuff; dripping globs of water from the icicles hanging on roofs of melting snow; impressionist splashes of water on sidewalks formerly treacherous with ice; a pedestrian with open coat and bare hands and head lately bundled from tip to toe in wool and textile; a midget area of green grass around the southerly base of a large tree; a soft wind; and no sound of plows.
It speaks well of the resilience of humanity that we so quickly rebound from the unhappiness of winter. Several hours of sunshine go a long way to push back the somberness of winter. And if we’re lucky enough to have the temperature rise above freezing, then the rewards are multiplied. Our collective mind travels quickly to felicitous thoughts, diverting us from the encumbrance of winter. And we can’t get away from it fast enough. A small dose of Spring is a forceful commodity I find.
Even though we are renowned as a country of snow-birds, the standard one-week excursion to southern climes never really succeeds in surmounting the dolefulness of winter. Once back on terra firma it’s business as usual and our spirits plummet. No, the only feature which cushions the blunt and radical nature of winter is the breath of Spring.