It’s a “snow day” in Vancouver. That’s code for “all chaos has broken loose because there’s cold white stuff on the ground and we don’t know what to do with it.” It’s also code for smug Canadians from other parts of Canada shake their heads and not-so-silently mock Vancouver drivers. True, we don’t deal with the hills like they do here. And in all honestly I’m slowly transforming into a self-entitled, cold-fearing, easy-life-living Vancouverite.
Shoveling snow and stomping through minus 30 weather to get to the bus stop have become a distant memory for me. Plugging in cars, scraping windshields, nose hairs freezing together… what’s that? What do you mean I can’t wear my tights as outer clothing? Or go out in my shapely, stylish jacket? Oh right… winter.
There’s something about enduring long, harsh winters. And I would argue that it’s good for the soul and building character. Faced with -25C plus windchill, you are humbled against the strength and ferocity of nature. You have to plan your travels, dress formidably well, and learn to ask for help. Ever have your car spin out of control and get stuck in a ditch? Or have it spin its tires in heavy snowfall? Yeah – not fun. But it’s amazing how it brings people together. I remember a time that I realized too late that the highway lane I was driving on was merging to the next because I couldn’t see the lines. I ended up driving into a bank of plowed snow to avoid hitting other cars(with no damage thankfully). Within seconds I had people stopping by and asking if I needed help. Within a couple of minutes, a car full of young college guys stopped and they all got out. Without a word they proceeded to push my car out of the bank and before I could even thank them they drove off.
Here, you don’t even get a nod of acknowledgement when you open the door for someone.
Of course, the joy of enduring a real winter is not a good reason to live in arctic tundra. But there are some unseen benefits when a community is forced to deal with common suffering together. You recognize your own humanity and you see it in others. You learn to sympathize and you know real hardship when you see it.
The other day I watched from my bedroom window a neighbor blustering from her SUV. She yelled at a truck driver who had stopped directly in front of a house [he paused to look for an address]. Apparently that was HER parking spot in front of HER house. Lord forbid if she had to walk an extra couple of meters from having to park behind his truck on an empty street. Really, lady? I know, this has nothing to do with the lack of winter in Vancouver. But it may have to do with living with so much luxury – without even considering it as luxury but as a right.
Well, in a few days I return to my land of birth – over the mountains and on the snowy plains of Alberta. Not everything is perfect in my family. Sickness and stress have weighed them down. But my hope is that while I breathe in the aroma of my mother’s cooking, or listen to the incessant noise of my father’s favorite TV station, I can thank the good Lord that I can do so. It’ll be cold, really cold, outside but I’ll have all the warmth and riches in the world in my father and mother’s home.