We spent Christmas and a few days either side in Sakatchewan, land of -27 C days and even colder nights. But, as it turns out, little snow. Driving along Highway 1 you could see the stubble of plants sticking out of the slim white covering, giving the horizon a green-brown tinge. There was more snow in sheltered places, dry and feathery, the sort of snow that doesn’t get you wet when you fall in it as it brushes off so easily.
Coming home to Vancouver it was a different story. We missed out on being there for the almost-record snowfalls (I gather we only need another 2 cm to beat the record set in 1964), but enough remained on the ground to require lots of snow-shovelling. Maybe next year I’ll break down and get a real snow shovel with better ergonomics; my back muscles are groaning using our emergency folding one with its too-short handle. Snow at temperatures around zero C is wet and sticky, not at all feathery, and it doesn’t brush off easily. In places the snow has the choppy look of whipped egg whites that have started to break down, in others like smooth piles of icing sugar, 60 cm (2 feet) or more thick. On the roads it’s a dirty grey colour, piled high in spots, interspersed with pockets of water that can’t make it to the storm drain and pockets of ice where the sun can’t reach.
It was the first coast to coast white Christmas since 1971, and we’re in the middle of another snowfall warning with snow forecast for the next three days (which should easily break that record). I’m glad I work from home.