The joy of a Montréal snowfall

An STM bus driver finishing his shift throws a snowball at the Metro grocery store window to a shift-worker he knows as I walk home, warm after two pints of IPA and an Old Fashioned at Bosswells Brewery. I make a snowball and follow suit – we giggle, then we chuck snowballs at a passing STM bus, his colleagues. This dump of snow comes as a great relief, reminding of us of our fading nordicity.

One of the warmest starts to winter on record, we have every reason for concern about the climate crisis. It expresses itself on a personal level as climate grief. There is a genuine and deeply felt sense of loss for the urban winter sports that I love, from cross-country skiing on Mount Royal to pick-up hockey at Parc Laurier. These small pains pale in comparison to climate catastrophes others face, usually in low-income and racialized regions of the world, but this grief is nevertheless real.

I welcomed today’s heavy snowfall with heartfelt relief.

Everything is at once made beautiful. How can you describe the snow without falling into cliché? It is light, and soft, and gentle. It is incredibly bountiful, tender, and generous. It is radiant, lovely, and quiet.

I needed to buy a printer, but after 30 minutes of digging around a Communauto car that refused to move, I gave up and went to the pub. For drivers, even mumbling “crisse de tabarnak” as we strive to dig ourselves out is a form of ritual. The growing numbers of winter cyclists cruise by laughing, and I’m increasingly inclined to join them.

Perhaps the greatest part of this is that we can finally shake off the great blight of dullness: That grey weather, the heavy skies, the muted tones. This snow snaps us into the winters we love.

Play, joy, beauty.

There’s an innocence about it.

I feel sorry for those who must dig out cars, but I also know that – if you’re not pressed for time – the masochist in us love it. What greater sense of purpose, exercise, and achievement than the immediacy of moving a metal machine that was stuck?

The same can be said of the sense of reward and community in helping a stranger who’s spinning their wheels, an elder struggling with their zimmerframe and groceries over a snowbank, or shovelling your neighbour’s lane.

Thank god winter is finally here. I was lost without you for a short while.

I love a good snowfall. It’s tender, and beautiful, and fleeting. It brings us together, and reminds us of our nordicity. It tightens our sense of community, gives us a sense of purpose, and allows us to see beauty and joy in the everyday.

Like all beautiful things, it melts away as innocently as it arrives.

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