I don’t know his secret identity. He comes in the night, after the snow, and renders sidewalks clear. Sidewalkplow Man – super hero.
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It’s crazy. It’s not even winter here yet. And I already hate it.
In fact it feels like I’m hating winter more and faster than I remember in previous years. It hasn’t really snowed much here yet, but don’t care so much about snow. It’s the cold. And it’s the way so many people forget how to drive when there’s white stuff blowing around.
Cold – it seems like it’s damn cold out, and in. Like, Suddenly: Deep Freeze! Yet it’s not really that cold, when you look at a thermometer. It’s only mid-December.. what am I going to feel like when we get to February and the -40’s? Actually, I don’t want to know. I want to hibernate.
Then there’s the way people drive… Oh my Gods.
We get this white shit every year. Why is it always a shock to people? Why don’t people learn to fucking drive on snow? “Oh christ there’s snow on the ground – I better go into panic mode and act like I’ve forgotten how to use a car!”
One thing I’ve made a point of doing every year since I got my license, is when we get some snowy/icy/slippy weather, I’ll find an empty road or parking-lot, and practice driving in bad conditions. It’s not magic. You can learn this stuff. It varies from car to car, and it’s good to stay in practice. All you need to do is first, learn what your vehicle feels like as it is losing traction or just starting to slide. Then you learn how to deal with it. Most of it is common sense. I’m sure there’s even places you can go, to specifically learn how to drive in poor conditions.
So here’s the deal: If driving in the snow makes you feel so scared and tense that you have to go at 10km/h with your four-way blinkers on, if you’re on the verge of panicing when another vehicle goes past you, if you can’t stop at a stop-sign that you can see 250 meters away, then stay the fuck home. If you don’t know how to drive in the winter, then just don’t do it.
Last month was about the toys, this month is about being all grown-up and doing responsible stuff. Well, mostly.
I’ve had a few slow-leaks in my car tires for the last couple months and it’s annoying (not to mention bad for fuel-efficiency) to be driving around on half-flat tires all the time, and having to keep refilling them. Plus, my local gas station started charging for air recently so you have to keep a bunch of quarters with you if you need to refill all your tires.
So I thought, it’s going to be winter soon. Rather than getting another set of all-seasons, I’ll get my first-ever set of winter tires. They’re all new and shiney and nubbly – big deep nubbly treads. Well ok they aren’t actually shiney. But they’re new and nubbly! Say it with me: nubbly.
Now I’m thinking, my mum has a set of winters and a set of regular tires, but only one set of rims. So twice a year she has to get them swapped out which takes time and money. And I’m no car expert person, but I have to think that it’s got to cause extra wear on the tyres and the rims to be swapped on and off every year, then they have to be rebalanced and all that mumbo-jumbo.
So my plan is to try and save up over the next 6 months or so, for a set of sexy attractive rims and tires. Then I can keep the winter ones on the original rims (which aren’t ugly but aren’t snazzy either) and in the summer, have some sexy sporty looking wheels on my car.
And finally, having a complete set of winter wheels (rims and tyres) means that swapping them out with winter/summer isn’t such a chore – just like changing a tire, quick and easy. I could even do it myself (in some bizzare alternative mirror-universe.)
There’s something about night-time and snow. Dark sky, light ground. Quiet, cold. Still. It has a very particular feel to it.
A few nights ago, I took a few photos after everything was dark and quiet. I’m pleased with how they came out.
Looking out the front of the house, at the old church across the street…
Then out the back of the house, at my backyard…
Technical details: The camera was my 60 year old Zeiss Ikon Nettar, using GP3 Pan film at ISO 100. Processed for 7 minutes in TMax 1:4 developer.
Almost any kind of camping can be a peaceful experience. (Well, I said almost didn’t I?) When it’s done right… I mean canoeing in, finding somewhere way off the beaten track, where it’s just you, the tent, the water, the trees, and perhaps eleventy-zillion mosquitos.
One kind of camping that I’ve only done a few times (and none of them intentional), however is winter camping. It brings a whole new level of peace and quiet, when it’s too cold for the bugs, there’s nobody else around for a hundred miles (no-one else was dumb enough to go camping in this weather) and the air is still and quiet.
It is almost indescribable, waking up in the morning, and being able to hear snow fall. If the world is quiet enough, you can hear it snowing. It is almost magical.
Of course, the subsequent canoe trek through the blizard was sort of the downside anti-climactic non-magical moment… but even then, it had it’s fun. Like stopping in the middle of the lake to have a snowball fight in a canoe. (Yes, we were young, stupid and insane in those days. We’re older now.)
I don’t know why I thought of this today, in late July. It is just one of those moments, those memories, where Nature revealed some of her magic and beauty, and I feel fortunate to have experienced it.