Thinker, Author, Maker, Mom

Harpooning Glaciers

I wrote this post in February 2019 but was promptly sidetracked by kitchen upgrades. Painting that window trim opened a can of worms. Then the faucet broke and had to be replaced; which meant it was a good time to sand down the counter-top; and then paint the ugly drop ceiling, and then replace the flooring, and the baseboards…. Apparently the only thing I find more compelling than writing is, well, not writing. 😛

This is not my street. But it is beautiful, isn’t it? 😀

Today was one of those days where I didn’t want to write. Which is weird, because I usually do want to. I guess after my last crappy post I kind of felt like I didn’t have anything worth saying.

So instead I sanded and primed the trim around the kitchen window.
There’s nothing like avoiding writing to inspire you to finally get jobs done you’ve been avoiding for three years. And, since my husband was home early today I offered to chip away at the ice if he would go and pick up the kids from school.

This February has been particularly nasty in Southern Ontario. It hasn’t been this icy since 2014, the year we moved in. I remember watching the moving van wobble and slide as it struggled up the sloping driveway. It was exactly at this time of year five years ago.

Our house is at the middle of the street but also at the peak of a hill. It’s a sand-bank actually; an ancient sand-bar called the Iroquois Ridge that used to be under the water of a huge lake. If you dig in our garden under the top-soil it’s just reddish sand down so very deep. Oh, and garbage and construction debris; because humans.

At this time of year the sun almost never touches the sidewalk on our side of the street. The occasional snow-plow piles snow on our side because cars park on the other side. When the snow piles melt and freeze multiple times it makes them into pretty great dams which block the ice-melt from flowing to the storm drain three doors down. So when it’s warm enough, the ice-melt water just sits there until it freezes again. As a result, we had a small lake at the base of the driveway where the cement sidewalk slopes down to meet the asphalt, surrounded on the other three sides by small glaciers.

We have been getting a fair bit of freezing rain lately so last week at the hardware store I picked out an ice-chipper so we can stop abusing our garden shovel. The new tool has an 8″ wide blade and it’s got a good weight to it.

Having the right tool for the job is something I really appreciate. When I was growing up I was father-less and my Mom’s subsequent partners all were equally useless in the ‘handiness’ department so I had to fix my own bike when I had one; and it was me who figured out how to hook up the stereo every time we moved. Usually I had no more than a couple of screwdrivers, needle-nosed pliers and a hammer, so repairs were often unsatisfying and usually resulted in multiple cuts and bruises.

A few days ago, the weather forecast had predicted temperatures a few degrees above zero mid-day for a few days in a row. I took it into my head then that if I used the new ice-chipper, I could probably clear that icy pond and glacier away bit by bit before we got hit with another storm. This probably had nothing to do with avoiding writing and everything to do with just needing to try out the capabilities of this great new tool. Oh, and clear the driveway.

It probably looked like hard work because some passersby commented on it and a couple of neighbours mentioned my rosy cheeks. I even took my coat off, and it was only just above 0 celcius.

I had a good rhythm going and I was at it for at least an hour today, as well as several hours over the course of the past few days. I flipped the frozen chunks onto the sidewalk, using my ice-chipper like a spatula, then gathered them with the wide scoop shovel to slide them down the sidewalk and flip them up onto the snow bank, so when they eventually melt, they make it to the sewer drain three doors down instead of melting back into our little lake.

Maybe it was easier than it looked because the yoga I have been doing 2-3 times a week lately has been doing me more good than just making it much easier to put on my socks and pick things up off the floor, but it was also intensely gratifying. Each hunk of the small glacier I harpooned with my sturdy ice-chipper felt like a small victory against Old Man Winter.






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