Old Man Winter
by: Mike Lushington
I wish that we could get a good snowfall.
No, it isn't that I want to see the woods filled with the stuff for
good cross country skiing or snowshoeing. It is simply that a couple of
feet of snow piled up around the foundations of the old house make for
warmth and cosiness. Instead, the place shows its age, especially in
conditions such as we endured a couple of weeks ago. In other words, it
has been cold. Even when the furnace chugs almost non-stop, the basement
and the downstairs, especially on the windward walls, are chilly - and the
upstairs heats up to the point where it is uncomfortable to sleep.
The old people, living in these rather drafty older houses, used to
hope for an early and abundant snowfall for just that reason. It was, and
is, poor folks insulation. With the snow piled along the walls, these old
houses become very comfortable indeed and, because they are not completely
airtight, they always have an adequate amount of fresh air that makes for
healthy living.And, it goes without saying, it is much cheaper to heat
when the winds don't blow from west to east across the living room
Other than that, I haven't minded the lack of snow. There has been
enough for excellent skiing at Les Aventuriers trails in Mountain Brook
since before Christmas. People are surprised to find that out, but that
area seems to be a local snow trap - snow will accumulate around the
Charlo Dam Head pond even when there is very little almost anywhere else.
The other day, for example, I left home under overcast skies after we had
received a few centimetres of fresh snow. When I got to the chalet it was
snowing. I stayed there for two hours, during which time, it snowed
lightly but continuously. When I left to return home, I had to remove
several centimetres of new snow from my van. When I arrived back in Pt.
la Nim, I discovered that we had gotten no new snow at all in that time.
Even in the woods in back of home, though, the skiing has been good
this winter. The bit that we received before Christmas got thoroughly
soaked with the heavy rains of late December and then froze into an
extremely durable base for the few flurries that have passed by since. The
end product is not deep - it remained good for walking until the snowfall
of last week - but it covered all the rocks, roots and smaller branches,
making for good off-trails skiing. Snowmobilers, of course, would
disagree; it hasn't been a great winter for them thus far. And I can only
commiserate with the poor folk who are trying to run things at
On the other hand, the ice is firmly in place in the estuary and the
smelt fishers are having a great run. Even the big rigs have been set up
in mid channel for more than a week now. That is earlier than last winter,
if I remember correctly, and much earlier than the terrible season they
had two years ago, when conditions permitted only a season of two or three
weeks, and at least one lead, out from Point a la Garde, remained open for
the entire winter.
In the end, it always comes down to the old clichés: "every cloud has a
silver lining", "one person's blessing is another's bane", and so on.
Increasingly I find myself realizing that there is really no such thing as
bad weather (well, I'm still not sure about freezing rain); it is all just
weather than presents different challenges and different opportunities.