Wednesday, October 14, 2009


October 14, walking to the bus stop, walking in the approximate location where there was a sidewalk last week. Now it’s anybody’s guess what’s under there. A week ago there was snow, and even in Alberta we don’t usually shovel snow that falls in the first week of October.
Last week the trees looked down at the ground. “”Snow,”” they cried. ”It can’t be snowing yet. We haven’t even turned our leaves to fall colours yet, let alone dropped them.”
This was certainly irregular. All the trees agreed on it. Some of the trees wanted to wait for the weather to warm up. Most of them waited. But the weather did not warm up, so they called on the wind to blow their leaves off.
“”How can I blow your leaves off,”” whined the wind. “”They are still green and hanging in clumps.””
But the trees insisted. If there was snow on the ground, they reasoned, then it was time for the leaves to fall. Now the wind faced a challenge. A little breeze had definitely not been enough to dislodge those green leaves. Then Wind had an idea.
It blew hard, very hard, lift-the-veranda-furniture-up-and-toss-it-on-the-lawn hard. It only took a day of that before things started to happen. Down came the leaves, not the dry flaky leaves of most Octobers. Oh no. These were the green leaves, falling in clumps of five or six, falling like the branches Noah’s dove carried in its mouth when it flew out to Noah to tell him that land was somewhere beyond the horizon. Down they fell until they lay there ankle deep, reaching for the knee, catching in the laces of your snowboots.
Normally most people would rake up a sidewalk full of ankle-deep, the leaves. But even Albertans don’t usually rake the majority of their leaves when the temperature is hovering around -10 with a major wind chill. They wait for the weather to warm up.
Meanwhile, the skies noticed how interested we all were in the unusual weather. How could they have missed it? Hardly was there a conversation about anything else. Even skies tend to do more of whatever gets you attention. So they continued to dumpt a little skiff of snow each day—conversation starter snow, they called it.
But, as people will, people began to get bored talking about the same thing all the time. So desensitized were they that even the coldest Thanksgiving on record couldn’t impress them.
So the skies had a meeting. ”We’ve been playing it entirely too low key,” they concluded. ”If we want to get attention, we have to produce something truly significant.”
Soon they were dropping snow in balls and banks, dropping it like it was Christmas. They dropped it on the ankle deep piles of leaves that had been insulating the layer of sidewalk snow below. They dropped it on the lawns and the streets and the bus stop benches. They halted the traffic.
You worry about being late on a day when the wind is blowing, and the snow is falling in banks and balls on the ankle-deep leaves that are insulating the snow that covered the sidewalks that were there last week. I worried about being late for physio. But my worry was needless. ”Don’t come in yet,”called Laura, the physiotherapist. ”Wait until I get the shoveling done.”
I think they call it multi-tasking. Even a physiotherapist in Alberta doesn’t hire a contractor to shovel snow before October 15.

And the reason for writing all this is …
Well, why not? Maybe my future grandchildren won’t believe me if I tell them how lousy the weather was in October of 2009, so I might as well turn it into a story.

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