Call it strange, but I have been deriving great pleasure from our snow and ice-covered streets. Then, to my dismay the mercury began to rise in January. Double-digit temperatures that had been in the negative became single digit figures. Yes, the weather took a turn for the better and my happiness began to wane with every degree the temperature increased.
Then it happened – people smiled and talked with excitement as the sun blazed overhead, the snow began to melt and form puddles and my disposition worsened. Streets that had been covered in snow began to expose the asphalt that lay beneath and my stress level began to rise.
Thankfully, the warm trend was offset by freezing at night, and then a dip back into the negative temperature range caused the water that was pooling on streets and sidewalks to freeze solid. I relaxed, my blood pressure dropped and I began to feel better. I slipped and slid on the days I walked to work, but I was happy. I was even happier when I drove.
However, the wind began to blow and the temperature began to climb. In fact, as the price of crude oil continued its free fall to less than $50 a barrel, the temperature at Maple Creek continued to increase until it approached double digits on the positive side. I was in a dither. My temples throbbed and my breath was short and almost painful.
My wife said it was a panic attack and suggested I try breathing into a paper bag as I was apparently hyperventilating in her estimation. I don’t know if her prescribed treatment would have helped my condition since I was stopped by the authorities shortly after I left the house with a bag clenched over my mouth. Apparently breathing into a bag is also associated with hugging or inhaling solvents that produce a high (and can permanently mess up a person’s brain). Therefore, I was stopped on the sidewalk, frisked and my paper bag was confiscated. I was given a stern dressing-down and told I should be setting an example for impressionable young minds. It was an embarrassing experience and needless to say, I won’t be following my wife’s medical advice any more.
To my dismay, the warming trend continued into the weekend and resulted in balmy temperatures and rainfall on Saturday that removed almost all of the ice on town streets. I was downright depressed when the temperature rose to 16C on Sunday and it must have showed as I parked in front of the News office. Walking into the building, I glanced back and realized I had committed a parking violation. My vehicle was not confined to one parking place, but was about one foot past a yellow parking line on the street. Those parking spaces are hard to fit into, especially if you have to parallel park between two automobiles that are tight to the yellow line. Worse yet is trying to get out of a parking place when vehicles have legally parked in front and behind me. Therefore, I rejoice when it snows and those awful yellow parking lines are hidden from sight. While the parking lines are a good idea for efficient use of space, their disappearance in the winter makes me feel good inside. I park where I want without worrying about how close I am to the vehicle in front of me, and I never have to worry about stress, my blood pressure or hyperventilating. Life and parking is simple in Maple Creek when it snows.
However, I recently saw an innovative way of parking when a street was lined bumper-to-bumper with parked vehicles. We have all seen the sidewalk jumpers who drive their vehicle half way onto the sidewalk and then steer back onto the street in order to avoid having to parallel park, but I saw something even more creative. It was an alternative to double-parking on the street in front of a business, and I am guessing a passenger in the vehicle had mobility issues or ice on the street had created a walking hazard. For whatever reason, the driver simply drove down the sidewalk and parked in front of the business. It reminded me of some strange parking scenes in Europe – sandwiched between a building and neatly-parked vehicles on the street was an automobile parked on the sidewalk. I thought it was an ingenious solution to a problem.
Speaking of a problem, that reminds me of a summer story and how insects can be real a real nuisance. It was a beautiful afternoon at Maple Creek’s Heritage Festival and I decided to strike up a conversation with a person in close proximity to myself. When I asked how the individual was feeling, the reply was so faint I could not hear the reply. I moved closer and asked again. The reply was louder, but still very faint. Leaning closer, the individual spoke loud enough I could make out her words: “I can’t talk – too much sex spray.”
Needless to say that frank reply raised my eyebrows and my jaw likely dropped open as well. Trying to act as if such disclosures are common place, I asked, “Too much sex spray?” The other individual choked, turned red and doubled over. She finally composed herself and spoke after catching her breath. “Too much insect spray,” she whispered. Then I doubled over in laughter as well.
What’s the point of all my jibber-jabber? It’s simple – winter is a time of quiet comfort. Aside from attacks by influenza and treacherous walking conditions on ice, snow brings the end of the mosquito season, insect repellent is not required and it makes parking downtown very easy.
Let’s all enjoy winter while we can!