No reprieve from a ruthless winter weather wallop

Despite living through 49 Thornhill winters I must confess I was unprepared for last week’s weather wallop.

Winter after winter we’ve had at least one major snowstorm when the white stuff packed every corner, crowned every building with a couple of feet unless wind blew it off as it fell. We’d hunker in the house as much as possible to wait for sunshine and blue sky to reappear. Then it was all shovels in action, hire a machine to clear the yard and driveway, and prepare for whatever came next. Often we were placated with a few weeks of clear skies.

The winter of 1968 we had minimal snow until Christmas Eve. Snowing began late afternoon as the diesel supply truck arrived to fuel our light plant. By the time he had filled the 500 gallon tank, we had a foot or more and it kept up for hours.

In early February 1976 schools closed when a storm knocked out hydro, and our propane furnace. To keep our young kids safely warm, I stayed home from work to stoke the Quebec heater.

Mid January ordinarily brought a week or so of rain but unless it raised the Skeena river or a creek to catastrophic levels for others, that too would soon pass. I recall few problems except for a puddle that would accumulate in a low spot under the walk-in gate. We drained the puddle by trenching across the driveway to the lower side of the yard.

Last week was different. First we had a heavy fall of comparatively light snow. I spent a couple of hours shovelling out my truck before rain began. Rather than keep on shovelling and end up soaked, I left off for the night.

As I figured, by next morning rain had lowered the snow level until I knew I could drive over it.

I prepared to go to town but as I sought to unchain the big gate so I could leave my yard, I couldn’t depress the tongue of the snap joining the safety chain. Rain had frozen, immobilizing the snap. It refused to budge. In no time my fingers became stiff from cold yet I was making no headway with the snap.

At my age, I take such setbacks as a sign I should stay home, safe, where I won’t create a problem for someone else to deal with. Suppose I hit the ditch on an icy patch of road? Or slipped walking on an icy sidewalk and ended up in Emergency? So much could go wrong in a blink.

My trip to town wasn’t vital. I had no appointment to keep, no bill to pay before a utility might be cut off. So what if I had to pay a late library fee? That wasn’t a reason for my trip either.

Overnight I considered my gate dilemma and a sensible solution came to me. Pliers.

Next day I depressed the snap tongue with gooseneck pliers and drove to town.

Days later this winter’s innovation struck. Rain soaked the bottom two inches of snow, before freezing solid, cementing the lower frame of every gate.

I was a prisoner in my own yard. I could not get out; no one could get in.

That bedtime for the first time in my life I felt rising panic. Suppose I needed a firetruck? Or an ambulance? Would a first responder rappel down from Thornhill’s ladder to haul me out on a backboard like an injured hiker?

That would be a spectacle for neighbours worthy of popcorn and phone videos.

Just Posted

Terrace users on Facebook post warnings about vehicle break-ins

RCMP say it’s important to always lock your doors

Oil tanker ban to be reviewed by committee

Indigenous groups for and against Bill C-48 travel to Ottawa to influence the Senate’s decision

Supportive housing project delayed until end of winter

Rainy conditions have stalled groundwork for the 52-unit development on Olson Avenue

Tyler Dozzi breaks national record, ‘running like a madman’

Terrace runner sets new time in Boston in his last U20 race

B.C’s salmon advisory council skips Terrace

Public engagement tour excludes all non-coastal communities

Omar Khadr wants changes to bail conditions

‘My life is held in suspension’, says the former Guantanamo Bay detainee

Lions announce seven members of coaching staff not coming back for 2019

The operational moves come two days after the Lions announced DeVone Claybrooks as the team’s new head coach

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Coach accused of sexual assault says apology letter was misinterpreted

Dave Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching

Give the gift of nature this holiday season

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

No plans yet for free WiFi on BC Transit buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

Some Kotex tampons recalled in Canada and U.S.

In some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Sex-assault squad investigated eight incidents at Toronto all-boys’ school

The interim president of a Roman Catholic all-boys school rocked by student-on-student abuse allegations said the football program was cancelled for next year.

Most Read