Wishing for a short winter

The blue-white cold of Saturday and Sunday mornings heralded that winter was in its full delightful white dress.
Hoar frost clung to the trees. Ice crystals hanging in the air created giant rainbows. The sidewalk snow squealed under the crunch of footsteps.
Winter cold was penetrating everywhere.
Winter has come fast to our area of the world. But it has come with equal speed and ferocity to most of North America.
My friend, Phil, from Missouri complained on Facebook that he really didn’t want the winter cold, freezing rain, and snow that Canadians had gifted to him in the south.
Earlier in the week, he had been out bass fishing. This week, however, the ice build-up on his ramp to the dock makes it impossible to get to his boat.
I suppose this December freeze often is normal for this time of the year. I remember driving with the family to our cabin on Rainy Lake in the second week of December to cut white pine bows to turn into a garland for our banister.
In recent years, we hadn’t received the snow that currently sits on the ground, nor the freezing temperatures and severe wind chills. In the past few years, winter in my mind hasn’t begun until January.
Last year, travelling back and forth to Winnipeg, the highways were always bare. This year, they are a mess. In some places, they are totally snow-covered and hard-packed while, in other stretches, they are centre bare.
It is a difficult year for crews keeping the highways and roads open in Northwestern Ontario.
Caution is the name of the game. Safety over speed is called for. With the temperatures so low, salt and chemical ice-melters only can do so much. Gravel can roll over the top of hard-packed surfaces.
Salt crystals on highways can melt the hard-packed snow to minus-16 C. Other commercial ice-melters can dissolve ice and hard-pack snow to minus-25 C. Salting and sanding is an ongoing process across the area.
Winter presents a constant battle for road crews. In Fort Frances, the streets, back alleys, and sidewalks are a real test for town crews. With the snowfalls compounding last week, the sidewalk crew hadn’t cleaned the sidewalks from the first storm before they were called on to begin anew.
They were up to the task, however, and had the streets and sidewalks cleaned in a timely fashion.
Even cars and trucks groan when started in such sub-zero weather. We are choosing to bring out our extension cords to make engine warmers work to keep starting easier and less a drain on batteries.
Winter is here. We might want to resist the thought, but that cold west wind slaps you in the face when you walk outside. The unheated car seats freeze our bums.
We can all ask Santa to make this winter a short one. I know that wish is in my letter.

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