Snowtember 10th, 2014
Bonnie called last night to check if Miranda and I are still doing early morning walks. We are. This morning we set out in walking shoes, even though the snow had fallen last night. Wet, heavy snow but only a few inches high. On my solo walk yesterday the weather had been the same. The weight of the snow on the branches of bushes and trees that line the sidewalks was so great that they were hanging down, making it fun to duck down low to fine my way through them. “Just like a maze. Now much fun would this be to take little people out into what seemed like a science fiction fantasy land. And right on the sidewalks of my own neighbourhood.”
But Miranda and I went due west since we know that if we walk at an even pace we can get to the lights at the Childrens Hospital and back in the 50 minutes we have a lot to ourselves.
This morning’s walk was different. We had hardly passed the church when we saw a fountain of water that had erupted from a watermain – maybe 3 feet tall, running freely along the grass until it could find its way to the drain at the curb. “What a mess that is going to be,” I thought. “The water will turn to ice at this temperature and then a pedestrian is going to slip and fall here.” The water fountain was close to a set of saw horses – the ones that the city uses to block off another watermain space they are working on. Perhaps two breaks will be as easy to fix as one. Perhaps not.
We walked on. I was hungry already and telling Miranda about America’s Test Kitchen’s email about the ten best kitchen gadgets to make a perfect breakfast. Rebecca already has one that is good for her: the Nutribullet. Just put in a banana, some fruit, a handful of spinach, some flax seeds and blend for the perfect breakfast. I couldn’t see why I couldn’t just do this in my regular blender, but this machine comes with two cups, and a handle and lid, which turn it into a mug you can take with you in the car. Rebecca made the breakfast drink so often that I turned from shaking my head and wondering why anyone would select that for a breakfast drink, to mmm, this doesn’t taste that bad afterall. I hate it when the slippery slope of desire goes in the direction of conversion. Don’t go out and buy this machine unless you get a pair of ear plugs as well. The motor is screamingly loud. I have no idea why the manufacturer didn’t put a silencer on it.
I am the talker on the walk. I don’t leave any pauses between my ideas so Miranda can’t jump in to talk. But I quit talking at the sound of a huge cracking of a poplar branch behind us and we turned around. Four yards behind us, the branch and the snow on it hurtled to the ground. I said, “Well, that is a first for me. Has that ever happened to you before? I think we just missed a recipe for death. Which god protected us, Miranda? Your Catholic god or my Mormon one? And are we going to start wearing helmets on our walks?” She answered mot of the questions but not all. The question about whose God sent protection is a hard one.
By the time we were coming back home our steps were careful – at least my steps were. The snow was so wet that each pace forward required a push-off from the last one. And while I was trying to go forward, I was also doing a sideways movement, occasionally bumping into her from my push off that was meant to propel me ahead. By just being there, she saved me from a couple of falls. I asked her if the fine sleet was moving around the lenses of her glasses and getting in her eyes as it was in mine. “Yes,” she said. “I am down to closing them so that only tiny slits are letting me see where I am going.”
The traffic lights were out at the intersection of University Drive and University Avenue, snarled traffic now using a stop, check and go method of getting to their destinations. I wanted to stop at the tree branch – the one I call the near-death branch that was laying across the sidewalk. It was calming to walk around it, look at the diameter of its branches and at the height of the secondary branches and know that I was stil alive. By this time we were stepping over many branches and could hear the cracking of trees every minute or so.
Crowchild and 24th Avenue was a disaster: 5 lanes of traffic and two outside turning lanes to negotiate with the traffic lights out. “I wonder if there wil be no power at home?” Until Miranda said that, I hadn’t thought about power grid being out in the neighbourhood. I was too busy doing an experiment in my back alley, grabbing a low hanging branch and flipping it, seeing how easy it was to shake the wet snow off. No snow would drop down to the groujnd. The snow is heavy and wet and hanging onto the leaves and branches as though it were velcroed there.
When I got home I tried to shake the thick blanket of snow off the front of my hoodie. It, too, was plastered there. I shook it again. No luck. I banged it against the cement wall of the house where I got my best results. What still clung to the cloth is just going to drip dry in the house. By late evening the City of Calgary was talking about how to remove the downed forest from its streets.