Snow brings out the Canadian

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This week the paper received a record amount of Kisses and Kicks – but mostly Kisses, and largely because of the snow.

A good dump of snow in hilly terrain can cause a lot of disruption and even danger. But with crisis comes opportunity for unlimited kindness.

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The snow brought out “superheroes” Jill and Chris B. who put themselves in harm’s way helping two out-of-towners on the “crazy hill” above Sargeants Bay. It brought out countless “angels” who unassumingly shovelled the driveways and sidewalks of grateful neighbours. It brought out that extra something in businesses, transit drivers and snowplow operators who went above and beyond the call of duty.

What is it about the snow that makes ordinary folk suddenly, fabulously heroic?

In most of the rest of Canada, living with about six months of snow a year is par for the course. On the Prairies, for example, people really know how to do snow.

One of my best snow memories happened one night in the mid-1990s when I foolishly tried to drive across Highway 67 north of Winnipeg, between Stonewall and Lower Fort Garry, during a blizzard. I was doing all right until I hit a snowdrift that seemed about the size of the Titanic, burying more than half of my car.

I was past the desolation of Oak Hammock Marsh, but still in the middle of nowhere, waves of snow pouring endlessly out of the blackness. Trying to dig out with my little shovel seemed like futility itself. It was grim. These were the days before everyone had cellphones.

Then a very bright light appeared and a big 4x4 on lifts came towards me. Two teenagers jumped out, said hi, and started furiously shovelling around the wheels and base of my car. Soon we had it clear enough to hook up and they towed it to their farm, some 300 metres away. They told me they’d seen my headlights in the snow and figured I could use some help.

Inside the farmhouse their mother gave me tea and homemade muffins and we sat around chatting about this and that. They put me up in a spare room and one of the young men brought me a stack of books from his collection. All he had was Stephen King, but it was a large collection. I read about half a page and fell asleep.

I left the farm early the next morning, thanking the boys for their kindness. Their driveway was as clean as a curling rink and the snowplows were zipping along the beautiful black road. The sky was a perfect blue.

Driving home to the little house in Selkirk and my precious family, I felt like I was bathed in light.

It must have been all that reflection off the snow.

© Copyright Coast Reporter

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