The Canadian Battlefield
A Typical Canadian Winter Day
The treacherous Canadian snow. I tussle with it every day of every winter. Every morning. Every evening. At times I do adore it. But its sweetness begins to grow stale only in a matter of days.
It is a usual Monday morning, filled with numbness and laziness. After hitting the snooze button on my alarm three times in a row, I finally wake up. I cuddle myself with multiple layers of clothing. Though sometimes despite how much I wear the pitiless cold manages to squeeze its way in, through the layers and under my skin.
The once soft, white fluffs of snow from the night before have turned into rigid ice sheets which cling to my car windows like dry paint. I’m tempted to use hot water to get rid of this. I once tried this as a child on my mum’s car (despite her warnings against doing any such thing) and was delighted to see the ice evaporate from the windows in a matter of seconds. I thought it was some kind of magic. But today, years later, my mum’s warnings have an effect on me. I’m afraid that taking any such risk might crack the windshield. So I use a snow scraper and spend a good fifteen minutes labouring away – not until a speck of snow remains on my windshield.
Finally, when my car is all prepped and ready to depart I face the challenge of driving on piles of snow on my driveway. I plough through the mounds of frozen snow, my car jerking and skidding before I steer it onto the street.
Fifteen minutes later, I see a policeman directing traffic the other way. Two cars have been involved in a head-on collision ahead of me. Ambulances and police cars populate the area in a matter of minutes. The journalist in me comes alive as I’m tempted to get out of my car and take some pictures. I can’t see the injured from where I am and wish that the cars would start moving again so I could get a better view of the scene. But I’m stuck in traffic for the next ten minutes.
I begin to realize how impatient I become. I always knew I had a tinge of impatience in me but never thought that it would compel me to dash out of my car on an open road in minus something temperatures. I look around. Other drivers in their cars appear least bothered by the chaos. I wonder why I just can’t mind my own business and focus on finding a shorter route. I learn aspects of my personality, which I never knew existed.
I look at my watch; it’s nearing 9:30 a.m. It suddenly dawns on me that I’m half an hour late for work. I get anxious, and imagine the look on my boss’s face, considering this is my third time being late this month.
I’m forced to detour. But again assure myself that there is absolutely nothing I can do to avoid the delay. Slowly following the other cars, I tune the radio to 98.1 CHFI, Toronto’s light classics and sing along to the song, “I feel like a woman,” by the pop diva, Shania Twain. I try to enjoy the moment.
When I reach the subway parking lot, I realize I’ve left my wool hat at home. This is no ordinary winter hat. Not only does it cover hard to reach areas such as the back of my neck, but also envelopes perfectly around my side buns and ear lobes. Capable of shielding the deadliest of winds, it has been my guardian angel through the years. I feel bare without it, so use my neck scarf as a substitute, wrapping it around my head until I feel warm.
As soon as I get out of my car, I’m hit by the minus 30 something wind chill. I can feel the hair on the back of my neck rise, despite the multiple layers of clothing. Nature’s white treasure now covers 12 cms off the ground and the winds grow heftier by the minute. Struck by the beauty of the scene, I walk along, face down - through the icy path which takes me to the subway platform. While walking, I conceive images of Innuit treading along the Artic -- vivid memories from my grade 5 geography text book. I spent the first ten years of my life in Karachi, and as a child was fascinated by the thought of living in the midst of snow and prayed to be part of such winter frenzy. Hell, what was I thinking?
While in the parking lot, I’m tempted to run – again the anxiety of being late for work makes me consider doing this. But I remember the fall I had on hard ice a couple of days ago and stop myself from acting foolishly. Alas, I reach the subway platform. I hop onto the next available subway, grab my usual corner seat and plug my iPod in my ears. I appreciate the feeling of being warm and cosy. And actually enjoy my half hour ride to work – doing absolutely nothing.
Minutes later, when I’ll get off the next subway station, I will have to start battling with this winter all over again. This time however, I may have to tussle with the additional freezing rain as well, which according to the weather man was supposed to invade Toronto by mid-morning.
Unpublished, Copyright, Moorad 2008