Whatever stereotypes you might hold about Calgary and Calgarians–I know, I’m from Toronto, the supposed centre of the universe–I will agree with one: the weather here is a touch unpredictable. (See Exhibit A, below.) Yes, occasionally it snows in the summer.
(As an aside, I’m afraid to call our dear friends who moved to the country last spring. Their property has since flooded and lightening has struck their home. I can’t imagine what yesterday brought them. Please write in, disaster-prone friends, to reassure my readership that you are okay. We are all worried about you.)
But we Calgarians are a hardy folk. Kids were expected at school, despite widespread power outages. People made their way in to work if they could. Those who couldn’t spent the day clearing neighbours’ sidewalks, saving all the tree branches they could reach, and doing whatever they could to help out those around them. I’m afraid I just admired the neighbourliness from afar, since I was totally bushed after a dog walk through heavy, wet snow and needed a 90-minute nap.
Countless branches and trees were felled by the heavy accumulation, causing power outages in many areas. We lost two major branches ourselves (see Exhibit B, left). A neighbour who had left for work at 5 a.m. that morning somehow found the energy to take a chain saw to our debris so we could clear the road.
As we learned last year during the freak flood that wreaked havoc on our fair city, Calgarians should be known, not as rednecked cowboys, but as generous and kind neighbours. We pulled together then, and again yesterday, during this crazy snowstorm that has forever changed the face of the city.
But my favourite story of the day comes from J., who answered a young man’s knock on our door late yesterday afternoon, during our second extended power outage. We’ve known this lovely fellow since he was a small tyke. Now in Grade 6, he is mature enough to occupy himself alone after school until his parents arrive home. He was doing just that yesterday, until the power failed and he became a bit frightened. So he ventured over to ask if he could use a cell phone to call his mom to come home. While he waited, he shot the breeze with J. so he wouldn’t have to head back to the empty house. Of course he and J. talked about hockey, which, as a bad gay, I just can’t do. (After many years of J.’s patient coaching, I do now understand offside, but I still can’t spot it when it’s happening.) Good thing I was out at the time, or I would have grilled him on boring topics like friends and school.
There is no greater honour than knowing a neighbourhood child considers your home safe, and that his parents trust you to care for him in their absence. I can take no credit for this incident, but still it warms my heart. And all it took was a September snowstorm to make it happen.
As for the weather, the forecast suggests sunny skies and a high of 24º C by early next week. And we can count on a day or two that warm in the middle of winter too, since winter in summer begets summer in winter. That’s only fair, don’t you think?