Victor Schukov


Relief is less than a month away

March 20, the first day of spring, should be a Canadian holiday. That is when we are rewarded for enduring the four-month siege of winter. I am excited for a number of reasons. For one, I am anxious to once again stand outside in nothing but my shorts, wondering if this is the year that the white grubs return; and whether this is the year I control them with napalm.

For me, the rigours of winter are salted by the fact that I personally have little to do in that most frosty of seasons. I don’t care for downhill (tree-dodging suicide on an inclined plane) skiing, or cross-country (a.k.a. weed) skiing. I don’t skate since I got too old for organized, recreational body checking. I take no pleasure from skating in a circle until that one unobtrusive crack in the ice fells me. What’s left, snowshoeing and riding in a one-horse open sleigh?

Spring is when my heating oil gauge takes a three-season break from burning a hole in my wallet. On a cold day, I can actually see it bob and sway and sink like a fisherman’s float. I miss spring terribly. So does my washer and dryer:

My small laundry room is an old extension to the house and has no insulation. Below zero, the water entry to the washer freezes so I can’t use the machine. That is in itself academic because I wouldn’t be able to dry my clothes anyway. The dryer motor doesn’t start in cold weather because the only thing separating it from winter is a sheet of gyprock and a thin layer of stucco. Sometimes I think I should do with the dryer what I do with my car on cold days: Call a tow truck and have it boosted. But I don’t think that they make booster cables long enough to run from my driveway into the house and to the right.

I love spring for its babbling sidewalk run-off, birds returning in battalions and turning the trees into massive nest-offs. I miss leaves and flowers. I miss grass and hedges that overgrow. I miss sitting on the front porch and not watching the neighbours shuffle by at an angle against the wind with their heads down and covered like something out of a white-out in Dr. Zhivago. I believe that winter was invented by a mad Russian scientist to annoy the rest of us.

It is my belief that ideal weather requires the wearing of a minimum amount of clothing, short of shopping naked; although it would make it easier when trying out stuff in store changing rooms. The only reason I don’t move to a hotter climate is because I have an aversion to the other heat-seeking creatures who settle there: Scorpions, rattlesnakes and alligators. Oh, and cockroaches the size of Tonka toys.

So I remain a part of greater Canada and its border-people who cling within an hour of the U.S.A. We latitudinally hover over the Obama-Harper line like cold hands over a warming fire. Oh well, less than a month to go. I guess my shorts can wait that long.

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