Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Gift of Snow and Ice

The snow will be leaving us shortly. Rain is expected tomorrow and for the next few months, I suppose. And, to be honest, I am not overly sorry to hear that. This is Vancouver, after all, the Teflon city in regards to the white stuff. That said, this last week of accumulated snow and ice has gifted me in the most unexpected way. With roads slippery and slushy, and the risk of ICBC deductables looming over my head, I ditched the car.

I didn't always drive. Two years ago, I was car-less and had been for almost 20 years. Then my father broke his hip and driving, at least for him, was no longer possible; I inherited his vehicle. There were benefits to this, of course—I could visit him more often and out-of-reach places were no longer a nightmare in bus transfers—but at first I resisted. 

Driving was the antithesis to my environmental stance, it was the gateway to laziness, and it was expensive. How could I justify it? I continued, therefore, to walk to work and bus into town, only using the car when bus travel just didn’t make sense. But the “efficiency of time” excuse soon crept in, followed by the “just for today ‘cause I’m tired” justification and finally the “damn it I want to drive” rationalization forgo the subtleties and broke down the door. The keys were in my hand and I became a driving fiend. It took less than half a year. And then the snow came.

I don’t have snow tires and I have no winter driving skills. Necessity made me park the car. And I realized
all the joys I could have missed out on if I had purchased winter tires and kept on driving.

Over the last week I have revisited the delights of a nighttime walk along the seawall, making my own foot prints in the snow and experiencing the quiet melting of a snowflake on my lip. I’ve been serenaded by the call of birds as they have gathered for the evening and debriefed the day’s events. I've stood under trees and experienced their magical stillness and the solitude of a street light limning the branches laden with snow. I've found  buds teased into opening from the breath of spring we had but a week ago and let my ears drink in the gentle lap of water as the tide played tag with the shore.

Its easy to get caught up in the I-got-to-get-home urgency that strikes us when the work day is over, and easy to forget that the earth is not a just a tool to get us from one place to another. Important and vital stories are waiting to be told by nature and all that springs from her—to be breathed into our souls, infused into our bone.

I give thanks to the snow and ice for this timely reminder and for bringing that message back home to my heart.

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