December 15th, 2009

Baby and me

The War Against Winter

General Winter is back!
And only Young Geoffrey can stop him!

The War Against Winter

During the spring and summer of 1977 I saw Star Wars (yes, just "Star Wars") something like 16 times. By the time the movie finally left town, I would put myself to sleep by running over the entire film — including every line of dialogue and each one of R2D2's beeps — in my head, sometimes doing it twice if I was having trouble transitioning to the Land of Nod.

Over time, memories of Star Wars evolved into a more personal (though admitedly, an entirely derivative) space-war fantasy of epic proportions, one in which I was the nearly immortal hero, time and again called up to save (ahem — it was mental comfort food, not meant to be a gourmet feast!) "The United Planets" from brutal, worse-than-the-Nazis, alien invaders.

And somehow, somewhere along the line, those alien invaders became iconified by winter, by snow.

The "invasion" would begin in late October or early December. I would be called upon to save the United Planets from certain anhilation shortly after Christmas and the war would rage for the next several months until, miraculously (and yet, to the detriment of the drama, also inevitably), the enemy was destroyed and all was once again Well With the Universe.

Until the next winter.

As you can probably imagine, the fantasy grew more perfunctory with time, an endless sequence of sequels, repetitive (and so conducive to sleep), but boring and so ever-more difficult to get enthusiastic about.

Young Geoffrey compared to snow-blower

I think it's a doubly-good thing I stopped smoking because, since General Winter launched his latest campaign, I have enjoyed more exercise than I probably have over the previous six months.

As you can see from the accompanying photos, Ottawa is a genuine winter city and our house includes a significant piece of driveway.

Last week saw our first significant snow-fall and the enthusiastic words I spouted upon my autumnal arrival at the begining of October — such as, "I can't wait for winter!" and "No, really, I'm looking forward to shovelling snow!" — now required that I put up or eat those words with an enormous helping of Corvidae.

Our first dump saw me shovelling out, from and back, not once, but twice. First in the early evening and then again first thing in the morning.

I've had to do it three more times in the last week or so, including spending 45 minutes at it this morning, when I was accosted by one of the women in the semi-detached house across the wall from ours, as she came out to find her car ready to roll out of a well-cleaned drive.

She waved at me as I hurled snow high atop the growing pile on the street and thanked me, saying she had been extremely busy lately, but that she would be joining me in the efforts soon.

She glanced at the shovel in my hand. "Have you done it all with that?" I said that I had. "Wow," she said, "it looks as if someone had used a snow-blower!"

I did this!

I laughed, all forelock (if I had a forelock) tugging and aw-shucks toe-scuffing false modesty.

"Anyway," she said, "thank you very much. I'll be joining you out here soon, but things have been crazy lately and you've been getting to it so fast ..."

"Don't worry," I said, "My dad tells me you kept him dug out the past two winters so I kind of figure we owe you anyway. And I can use the exercise."

She laughed. "All right, but once I come back from the East coast after Christmas I'll be helping you anyway.

And with that, she got in her car and I went around to the front to take care of her and our front walks.

So far, I really am enjoying it and my muscles appreciate getting used for more than typing and walking up and down a short flight of stairs a few times a day. Whether or not I'll feel the same come mid-March remains to be scene, but I'm optimistic that Young Geoffrey will still be shovelling the white stuff with smile on his face and a whistle from his lips.

And ... exeunt.