Monday, 8 March 2010

The last day of winter

A very wise old woman was fond of saying to me: "March has the first day of spring...but it doesn't have the last day of winter." And I do know better, as we move into the dying days (possibly weeks or months) of our tenth winter in Hades, strange El Nino season which saw rather a lot of our usual snow being sidetracked south and dumped on unsuspecting American cities. You can talk all you like about spring in Ottawa, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it affair in the best of times, but only deluded fools put out their bedding plants before the Victoria Day weekend in late May. You never know when a hibernal whim will dump snow in June. It's happened.Still, the Resident Fan Boy came home from church waxing lyrically about the beauty of the day, and as I was planning to gorge myself on tortilla chips while watching the Oscars, I decided to head out myself.

And by Ottawa standards, it was quite a lovely day. For March. I saw the hallmarks of pre-spring in this part of the world. The neighbourhood is lopsided. Yards on the north and east sides of the street are nearly snow-free, or sporting large, slug-shaped lumps of snow. The lawns on the south and west street-sides are still in winter's grip, as yet out of reach of the sun's lengthening rays. The filthy, grey mounds retreat to reveal lawn ornaments at odd angles, litter, and piles of doggy-do.But down by the Rideau River, streams of greenish water seem to flow against the current, as long gashes appear in the treacherous ice. (We seem to have had more than our usual falling-through-the-ice-and drownings out on the Ottawa River. Usually it's someone on a skidoo, but late month, two people had fatal accidents while driving trucks over the frozen river. Both were long-time residents who have been driving over the ice for years, but this year's ice was thinner and melted much sooner.)So I picked my way gingerly along the pathway on the bank, defiantly wearing street-shoes on the agar-like slush. A jogger, similarly-shod, loped past me with nary a slip.As I searched for somewhere less sloppy to stroll, I saw a young girl ahead, at the crest of the hill that leads down from the playground. She had a saucer slider and was taking advantage of what has to be the last weekend that any sort of tobogganing is possible. In fact, the Resident Fan Boy and I noticed less of a crowding in the buses and museums this weekend, possibly because many families are seizing the final opportunity to head for the ski-slopes.

Is it really the last winter weekend? Do I dare put the snow-boots and parkas in storage?Naaaah. Victoria Day is only, what, eleven weeks away?

No comments: