It snowed on Sunday and Monday. A lot. So much so that Nicholas disappeared when he stepped out the front door to go to school. He was thrilled. I sent them all to school by the road, for fear that they’d never get to school if they had to trudge across the park. Our back garden is full, with some huge drifts that would easily contain Rebecca. I pottered around the house for the day, occasionally noticing that the neighbours seemed to having some difficulty getting in and out of their parking spaces. Our neighbour on the left spent almost an hour digging his car out, and there was lots of wheel-spinning going on. Men arrived to shovel out the paths, and chucked all the snow into ever-increasing mounds in the front gardens.
I was cooking dinner for Michael, when I saw him pulling into the estate. Five minutes later, I looked out to see what was keeping him, and realised that he had got stuck trying to drive into the parking space. The wheels were spinning uselessly, and he kept getting out to shovel more snow out from under them. I jacketed up and headed out to help.
I was delegated to driving, so I hopped in, rolled down the windows, and reversed and drove forward when bellowed at. No joy. Michael was using a shovel belonging to Janet next door, and it was looking a bit fragile. We struggled on, and our other neighbour appeared, wondering did we need a hand. “Please!”, gasped my sweating, stressed husband. So out he comes, pushing this enormous shovel. It was like that scene in Crocodile Dundee, when the mugger pulls out a knife, and Dundee looks at it scornfully. “That’s not a knife! THIS is a knife”, and he pulls out a huge blade.
The two men pushed and rocked the van off the snow bump that I was stuck on. They cleared the snow and eventually I managed to drive it into the space. They went off then to rock another car out of the snow, and I went back inside to try and make dinner look less incinerated. Michael came in, and said that the roads home had been fine. So I headed off with Nicholas in the van to collect Christopher from his friend Ethan’s house.
My first clue should have been when I fishtailed wildly out of the estate into a road full of snow and slush. Once I was out, the only thing to do was keep going forward, so I crawled along in a line of traffic, wondering what planet Michael had been living on when he was driving home. I was expecting clear, ploughed roads, not two tyre tracks to follow through mounds of snow. I arrived at the correct intersection, turned right, and realised that this road was even worse. I inched along, looking for number 134, with Nicholas shouting random numbers from the back of the car. I don’t know what he learns in Maths, but reading numbers is apparently not on the curriculum. I overshot the house, went a bit further, turned (with enormous difficulty), went back under the curious gaze of the local snow-shovellers, and tried to pull up at 134. The van stopped.
I revved. Smoke came out the back. I shoved into reverse and revved. It slithered deeper into the snow and came to a complete halt. I looked at the cars arriving behind me and swore. “Get out!”, I told Nicholas, “go and knock on the door and get Christopher. We’re stuck”. He hopped out, and I revved again. Nada. I got out and looked at the bloody thing. The girl in the car behind me walked up to me. “Will I push?” she said. I looked at her, and looked at my van. Yeah, right. Not unless you’re going to turn into the Incredible Hulk, love. Nicholas was still hovering. “GO IN AND GET CHRISTOPHER!” ” I can’t! I’m shy. And scared”. I looked at him in disbelief. Not as scared as you’re going to be if I have to come over near you, I thought. “GO. IN.” Getting a bit savage in the tone now. Trying to remember that I was in public. “No”. Holy Mother of God. I stalked over, propelled him up the steps, rang the doorbell and waited, throwing evil looks in his direction. A teenage girl opened the door. “Hi, I’m here to collect Christopher”, I said brightly. “Come in”, she said. “No thanks, I can’t, my van is stuck outside”. Brightly, through gritted teeth. A woman appeared. “Hi, I’m here to get Christopher, my van is stuck”, I babbled. “Oh”, she said, surprised. Christopher appeared, opened his mouth to either moan about leaving or ask to stay, saw my face and shut up.
We headed down the path, followed by the mother, daughter and various other family members, to find that more people had left their cars to help. “Will I drive?” asked one of the men, so I accepted gratefully, and we all went to the front of the van to push. He put it into reverse and we rocked and rolled until he shot backwards, threw it into Drive and headed up the road, slithering a bit but moving. “Don’t go near the verge”, shouted one of the women. “And don’t stop!”. “Or reverse!”. God, so many rules for driving in the snow. A man about four cars back started to get a bit peeved with the stationary tailback, and got eaten alive by one of the women, who started yelling about how they were all “HELPING SOMEONE WHO’S STUCK!” I was mortified. I thanked everyone, and legged it up to the car with the boys, with instructions ringing in my ears. “Stay in the tire tracks”, seemed to be the most important one.
We arrived home safely, to find Michael and Benjamin still shovelling snow. I parked, and rested my head on the steering wheel. Christopher and Nicholas tumbled out and shot over to Michael. “You’re DEAD!”, said Nicholas gleefully. “Mammy is going to KILL you!”, added Christopher for good measure. Michael strolled over, shovel in hand. “What’s up, sweetie?” he asked, baffled. “The. Roads. Are. Not. Fucking. Clear.”, I snarled. “I got stuck. And loads of people got out to help. And caused a traffic jam. And a man had to drive while we all pushed. And Ethan’s mother, whom I have never met before, now thinks I am an insane Irish woman with mad hair and no idea how to drive”. He laughed. I contemplated hitting him over the head with the shovel and burying him in a snowdrift. But the funny side won.
I just looked out the window, and it’s snowing again, which is contrary to this morning’s forecast. It’s a bit dispiriting to see that weather forecasters are the same here as in Ireland. Temperatures are to descend into the minus thirties at the weekend, with more snow forecast. Welcome to our Canadian Winter.