Summer came in like a lamb, and, for all intents and purposes, it settled for a long slumber from which it has yet to fully awake.
On the first day of autumn, in Moncton, the sky was azure blue, a light southwest wind blew, and the temperature was Bermuda-warm.
In the weeks and months ahead, I will remember that day because, for sanity’s sake, I must.
How else does one survive the winter that is surely to come?
There are no descriptions sufficiently accurate to capture the utter absurdity of last year’s white and woolly season – in fact “white and woolly” doesn’t even scratch the surface.
During the days just before Christmas 2014, a record seven feet of flakes fell on Buffalo, New York. In comparison, we on Canada’s East Coast had gotten off Scot-free. In fact, on December 27, the mercury didn’t dip below 16C. We could have been forgiven for believing that the rest of the winter would be just as mild. Except for the fact that The Almighty was not in a forgiving mood.
When Old Man Winter finally descended sometime in mid-January, he arrived for the duration – kicking up his feet, daily belching snow and ice, until, under some of the coldest temperatures on record, he had deposited as much as 500 centimeters (16.4 feet) on my West-end neighbourhood of the Hub City, by early April. Even the old-timers where astonished.
At some point in late June, the last of the once-incredible snow dump, adjacent to the Shopper’s Drug Mart on Vaughan-Harvey Blvd., had finally melted to the ground, leaving only the standards and flags intrepid mountaineers had planted on its peak.
Then, mercifully, came summer – one of the finest and longest on record in this corner of the Canadian Steppe.
Also, rather rudely, came Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s election call on August 6, reminding us all that October 19 is just around the corner, vaulting us all into the shoulder season that prefaces the arrival of winter, once again.
There ought to be a law, in this country, that proscribes warm-weather political campaigns – one that prohibits stern-faced candidates from invoking the certainty that our cold, dark, worried hearts are as inevitable as a February Nor’easter.
Leave that to the shovel season, when those who want to vote for “one-of-the-above” or “none-of-the-above” must work to get out of their driveways and exercise their democratic rights, come rain, sleet, ice, and snow.
As it is, signs urging voters to nullify their ballots have been showing up all over Moncton’s downtown in recent days – the lazy, hazy consequence, perhaps, of a glorious summer, interrupted by the same, old politics of division, easy partisanship, and cynical vote pandering.
Try erecting those road-sign messages (any messages) in the middle of a blizzard; see how far you get.
Still, we persevere; looking for a main chance, searching for a man or woman who will speak the truth, for once, to power, tracking the Great Dear of democracy through the September of our expectations, the snows of the impossible winters of our frozen minds, the frigid springs of our disbelief, and, finally, the summer seasons of our discontent.
As for me, I will take the last of this beatific time of the year to reflect, under the blue sky and baking temperatures, on the fleeting nature of pure joy: When the lambs and lions of the political world might finally lie down together, and contemplate building this province, this region, this country together.
After all, then, and only then, will we fully awake.