Went to bed in Victoria on Monday night, but woke up in Saskatchewan.
Knee-high snow. Minus seven. Still living next to Alberta.
I blame Trump, or maybe Lisa Helps, just for old times’ sake.
I called city hall. “For this we pay an average of $1.3 million for a glorified garden shed? For this we endure two-sailing waits?”
“Shut up and shovel your sidewalk,” they replied. “It’s the law.”
So I called the North Pole instead. “There appears to have been some confusion,” I said. “I distinctly remember asking for a $122,000 electric vehicle this Christmas, but you sent me a natural disaster by mistake. ”
“No mistake,” Santa replied. “I did it on purpose. Think of this as Vancouver Island’s gift to the rest of Canada.” Pardon?
“It’s the winter solstice,” he explained. “I had to do something to cheer up the rest of the country on the darkest day of the year, and nothing brings a smile to cracked, frostbitten lips from Cold Harbour, Newfoundland to Dawson City, Yukon (minus 48 today, with sunrise at 12:11 p.m.) like the sight of Victorians wringing their uncalloused little hands and flaking out (as it were) in the face of the kind of weather that people in Calgary equate with the August long weekend.”
Well, had to admit he had us there. Victoria, where Blundstones are considered winter boots, minus 20 is the sale price, garden spades are snow shovels and four-wheel drives are abandoned on the side of the road the moment the rain turns frighteningly white.
Victoria, where the region’s three-stage snowfall response protocol consists of: 1) demanding Trudeau do something, 2) mobilizing the trauma counsellors, and 3) pumping Prozac straight into the water supply.
And what better time than the solstice, which falls this afternoon, to go full Three Stooges for the entertainment of our fellow Canuckleheads?
My cousin Vern L.E.Q. Knox points out that we get our own turn to gloat in March, when Victoria holds its annual flower count, a tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted reminder to other Canadians that while they are stuck in an interminable, bleak, soul-destroying, Fargo-film nightmare of nuclear-winter-level wind, stings-like-rejection sleet, October-to-May snow, barren trees and frozen block heater cords, followed by a snow melt that promises nothing more than eight months worth of slowly thawing dog turds lurking like land mines in the slush, we here in the part of the country that God loves the most are enjoying a climate where the cherry blossoms arrive before your T-4 slip.
The thing is, it sometimes seems as though our neighbours are, in fact, more neighbourly than we — frostbitten, but still warmer.
I once lived in Regina, where people were disconcertingly friendly. Our first day there, someone struck up a conversation with my wife while waiting for a crosswalk light. “He must mistake me for someone else,” she thought while tasering him. Nope, he was just social.
Some Victorians, on the other hand, don’t even make eye contact during fistfights, or sex. You could stand at the corner of Fort and Government yodelling Bohemian Rhapsody and the guy next to you would just stare intently at his phone, wishing you away.
Except that seemed to change a little bit after the snow piled up Tuesday.
Walking down the street revealed a city that appeared to have microdosed on happy pills. I came across two women, next-door neighbours, introducing themselves to each other as they shovelled their driveways.
Dog-walkers paused to thank a man for shovelling the sidewalk in front of his house. A young couple laughed while hauling an inflatable pool toy to a toboggan hill.
I watched (but didn’t help) two passing pedestrians push a bald-tired car into a parking lot. Two men ambled down the middle of a traffic-free road drinking beer from 12-can cases, which might have been a little eyebrow-raising for 9 a.m., but was still vaguely Norman Rockwellish.
Maybe it was because it’s Christmas week. Still, it seemed that a little common adversity, a snow day like other Canadians contend with all the time, was what we needed to bring us together.
I can’t wait for it to melt.
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