February, but not the usual sort of February. There is grass visible in the yard. In fact there’s probably more of that sad-sack yellow thatch out there than there is snow this morning. The world, at least this part of it, is holding its breath, wondering if winter - the real, obnoxious, freeze-the-inside-walls-of-your-nose winter - is going to show up this year. I mean, there will still be days, won’t there? And a snowfall to end all snowfalls? A freeze deep enough to still the magma at the core of everything? It is Canada, after all.
I remember when I was a kid living outside Oxford, and my dad applied all of a sudden for a job in Mississauga. I was on a school field trip in Wales when this all went down. Studying the formation of estuaries, or some such. And someone we knew in Alberta, I think it was, had sent us a photo of his suburban sidesplit in winter. Really stupid amounts of snow were piled up around the house. A driveway that looked more like a canyon. Staged, I thought, incredulously. Has to be. Or it’s a movie set. But the next year, we moved to Ontario and the goddam temperature dropped and so did the snow, buckets of it, and I don’t think I forgave my parents for about two years.
That was a long time ago. I’ve got kids of my own now (better creatures, and more appreciative, than I ever was), and they look skyward regularly this year, their faces full of hope, and their toboggans loaded already into the back of the car, just in case. “It’s bullshit,” I tell them. “This winter, right? It’s absolute bullshit.” And I shake my head, as if I’m in full agreement with whatever resentment they’ve built up, whatever anger they’ve aimed at whichever weather gods it is they believe in.
Of course, I’d actually be happy if the temperature climbed to about 60 degrees and never went south of that mark again (except for the rising seas, and failing crops, and droughts, and new weather patterns and so on that would come along with all that balminess; I’m just talking personal preference here). So I’m just fine with what we’ve had so far this winter, that’s what I’m saying. Ice skates are useless to me, except in so far as they’re as lethal (to my own prospects, mostly) as ninja blades.
And all this uncertainty, all these bedraggled, drab bits of lawn and flower bed, have made for a slow start to the spring real estate market too. (It’s that or I’m just no damn good anymore, and people have abandoned me with good cause for some bright new thing with a flashier website and a back pocket full of market stats and fresh Tic Tacs.) And so I sit here this grey Sunday afternoon when an open house just didn’t seem like time well-spent for me or the seller, trying to get down some of what it is I feel and think about … all these goddamn clouds, and one degree Celsius days.
I think they’re bullshit, I’ll say so again. And I think you should ignore them and get out there (preferably with me) looking for the next fine place to hang your hat. Or you should freshen up the bathrooms and paint over the scuff marks on the baseboards and then give me a call. List my house, you should say. Let’s get people over here, instead of having them stay at home moping about. Let’s really give them something fancy to think about.
For crying out loud, you’re absolutely right. Do some of that. Because those are some mighty wise words, my friend. And you’ll be doing both of us a favour.
*The photo up top, by the way, I shot at Lumina Borealis, or whatever it was called, that vaguely New-Agey and frighteningly dull slideshow slash Powerpoint presentation that was sold as entertainment up at Fort Henry in recent weeks. I've had more fun watching the foam settle on my latte, I'll say that much. And there's a good reason Enya doesn't sell many records any more. I'll say that too.