A change of the dominant topic of conversation within the warrens occupied by downtown Moncton office workers surely signals – if nothing else does – the imminent arrival of that long-rumoured, nearly mythological, lady called “Spring”.
Bragging rights around the water cooler no longer extend to the those who can demonstrate, via selfies, the sheer volume of snow they have, with their strained and sprained muscles, removed in any given 24-hour period.
Nope; the kings and queens of the annual March madness that is winter in Moncton are now those who can answer the question, affirmatively and with definition and confidence: “So, did drinks come with your all-inclusive package to Cuba this year?”
Pick your poison: Havana or the Dominican Republic’s Santo Domingo. Of course, some here still favour the old standards. The Mayan Riviera along Mexico’s west coast is still a sweet peach of a place. So is, for the well-traveled sophisticates among us, Valparaiso in Chile.
But wherever we choose to bake on a beach, we are sending a message to the universe: Enough, already! And, at about this time of the year, the universe always heeds our entreaties. Doesn’t it?
As I say “we”, I should clarify that I have never left my winter perch for sunny, southern locales in the thick of a Maritime winter. After all, someone should man the snow fort, shouldn’t one?
Besides, being snowbound in Moncton isn’t all bad.
It could be Charlottetown.
There, my wife and I had the exquisite pleasure (and timing) of caring for two of our grandchildren in mid-February whilst our daughter and her husband scuttled off to Costa Rica for 10 days.
“Sure, honey,” I said to Jess, as we negotiated the terms of our sojourn. “No problem at all. This is the age of mobile communications. I’ll just transfer all my files on a flash drive and work from your home office there.”
Then came the snow.
Buckets of white poured from the sky. I broke my son-in-law’s shovel just clearing off the back deck. I ventured out into the blizzard to buy the last two scoops the city proffered. I broke one (again), and the other won’t be seen until the next ice-age recedes to reveal a glacial lake where my daughter’s garden once flourished.
Did I get any work done – the sort that actually pays me to, you know, hang out with snow plow drivers in Prince Edward Island? Let’s just say I arrived home to Moncton fitter than I have been since I swam the Halifax Arm in February, on a dare, when I was 22. (By way, just try that feat this year; I’m told you can skate from Jubilee Point to Prospect Bay without breaking the ice once).
And so, in the winter of 2015, the totals mount. Saint John broke its accumulation record, so did Charlottetown. Moncton is almost there (12 centimeters to go). Halifax? Forget about it. That coastal city has wrapped itself in blankets and assumed the fetal position. Municipal representatives, arguing with the provincial government, are still hemming and hawing over the issue of snow tires on cars that regularly traverse 10 per cent inclines of ice in the urban core. (It’s good to know that at least one thing doesn’t change in the city of my adolescence: utter stupidity).
As for all you periodic “sun-wingers” from the Hub City, enjoy your bragging rights, and know that when you return home, lovely, dulcet “Spring” will be just around the corner, just behind the snow bank you weren’t here to shovel.