Saturday, March 19, 2011


Tomorrow, at 19:21EDT (that's 7:21pm eastern daylight time), the sun crosses the equator on its annual track north. In simplest terms, that means spring arrives and the winter of '10-'11 comes to a close. That doesn't mean it won't snow but it does mean that, after tomorrow, the days will be longer than the nights until the first day of autumn.

Mostly, though, it means we are one day closer to being able to get our trikes out of storage and back onto the road. I've already switched to wearing my trusty running shoes. The sidewalks are mostly devoid of icy slush, replaced, however with gravel, larger salt cubes and other detritus. The snowpack is much reduced in a lot of places with open areas revealing the brown and flattened grasses from last year's warmth. The sun sits noticeably higher and its power continues to reduce the icy snows into a hardened dark grey mass. Tiny streams form and trickle under these mostly hardened plates of icy chill running down sidewalk cracks, curbs and flow more or less evenly into drains.

I am very attuned to the seasons themselves but mostly during those precious few weeks when the seasons shift.


Friday, March 11, 2011

More kudos to Adam

It's still raining as I write this. Indeed, this is the second part of a very complex storm system we had. This time yesterday, Adam and I were both outside shovelling the 15-20 centimetres of heavy, wet snow from the driveway. It was still snowing though it was mixed with freezing rain...a harbinger of the heavy drenching we would soon get. Our issue was in making sure the drains on the street remain clear of ice. Otherwise, ponding and the inevitable flooding would be our fate and that was something we most definitely did NOT want.

So, with the rains and the softening of the late winter winds, the ski season is definitely over. I hung up my skis a few days ago, content with having done 66.4 kilometres - two thirds of my stated goal. However, Adam not only managed to meet my goal of 100 kilometres for the season but he exceeded that goal. He took advantage of the half-way decent conditions a few days ago. After his last trip, we calculated that he was a measly 1.2 kilometres shy of 100. This trip he would do would surely resolve that matter.

When he came back, after having skied south along the disused rail track, we added up the numbers and, long story short, Adam finished the 2010-2011 x-c ski season at 106.8 kilometres. Considering the - uh - inconsistent ski conditions we had this season, that is awesome. So...congratulations to you, Adam. Kudos on you having met that 100 kilometre goal. Adam has said that he did the 100+ kilometres in honour of me, that as I could not complete my goal that he would do it instead. For that I am thankful to Adam. But then, I am thankful to Adam anyway.

Now, we hang up the skis and merely wait for the weather to warm up to something we can trike in. Until the salt is cleaned up, though, we won't be triking. Soon, though, soon...



Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Well, while I have, myself, hung up my skis for the season (yes I have), Adam hasn't. In fact, the weather having been so wonderfully gorgeous yesterday, he went out to do more skiing. His journeys took him south of here along the disused rail line for quite some way. In coming back, he continued north along the rail line and into the wetlands. If nothing else, he was able to see what the conditions were. Only then did he turn around yet again and glide his way back to his original starting point.

He was gone for quite awhile and I - correctly - assumed it was because he wanted to take advantage of the pretty good conditions that were out there. His timing was pretty good, too. We have a major winter storm drifting this way for later today with the promise of snow overnight tonight and well into tomorrow. Ordinarily that would spell good times for those of us who enjoy the snow (there are still a few of us who like winter) but the snow is supposed to change over to rain. It's also not forecast to get all that cold so what snow we do get won't last. In practical matters it not only means making sure the drain on the street is clear but also that the skiing season really is coming to a close.

So, what's the kudos about?

Recall that I had mentioned a goal of skiing 100 kilometres this season. Well, I skied 66.4 kilometres and left it at that. Adam, however, did a bit more and, after yesterday, a lot more. In fact, adding up his total distance, he is currently at the 98.8 kilometre mark. That means he only needs to ski another 1.2 kilometres...a whole 1200 metres for him to reach my stated goal. I guess he took my personal goal to heart which I find quite flattering, personally.

With this winter storm coming and due to exert its effects later today, we figure today is the last day to head out skiing because the much appreciated snow will change to a ski trail destroying rain by early tomorrow. Yuk!

So, I fully expect Adam to not only ski the last 1200 metres to reach my goal of 100 kilometres but to exceed it. If today is going to be it - he might as well finish the season off well.

Kudos to you, Adam, for your valiant efforts.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Ah, the joys of speaking too soon...

I'm a weather weenie. If it's in the sky, follows the jet stream, involves the systematic upheaval of conflicting air masses, dumps precipitation of any variety, amount with or without winds - then I'm interested.

So, you'd think I would know better than to assume the x-c ski season is over because of a recent melt coupled with fairly dry conditions. I was very wrong... For, this past weekend, we enjoyed a full day of steady rains...and then an overnight snow "event" that brought us - by our reckoning - about 15-20 centimetres of snow. Not just any snow, but that wonderful perfect combination of tacky moist and shredded coconut fluff. I know the snow was like that because I shovelled half of it off our driveway while Adam shovelled the other half. But, even as I was dutifully tossing shovel after shovel of the stuff I couldn't help but wonder whether I had unduly, prematurely, jumping-the-gun-style ended my xc- ski season. I had skied 60.4 kilometres this season, a respectable amount I thought. It wouldn't break my heart if I couldn't ski any more...

Then, today, the sun was bright, the winds brisk but quite bearable at this time of the year and the opportunity to ski presented itself in what would prove to be a near perfect storm of awesomeness; for, not only did we receive a really good amount of great snow but we had a new way of getting to the wetlands. It would involve a much shorter distance an earlier start point and, best of all, the chance to ski over top of Hunt Club where we could laugh uproariously at all the people stuck in traffic.

You aren't stuck in traffic - you are traffic.

Yes, it is hubris. No, I don't care.

There is a disused rail bed behind our house. No trains use that rail, well, with the very occasional exception of the odd train car slowly chugging along there for no easily discernible reason. In the ten some odd years we've lived here I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have actually seen a train car (note the singular noun) use the rail. The entrance to this rail bed is a good 400 metres from our door. It would be even closer but for the number of fences to negotiate. But, no matter, if it gets us out skiing, then so what. Besides, a little variety isn't always such a horrible thing, is it?

So, we gathered our skis and poles, suited up and left the house. Within about five minutes and with no car traffic to contend with, we were up on the raised rail bed. We snapped into our skis and were on our merry way on what was, essentially, undisturbed snow.

The rail line itself does continue north and become the one the OTrain uses but we weren't going anywhere near that far. In fact, we were on the rail line for about 600 metres before having to shuffle down, along a line of low growing trees and bushes and then through a wide hole in the pagewire fence. Once there, voila, we were in the Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetlands...and we didn't have to contend with morons who can't understand how a traffic light works or that pedestrians have the right of way when that illuminated little man light is showing or even the copious amounts of road salt the city still seems to think is necessary.

We must have been the first ones in the wetlands since this latest Major Snowfall (note the proper noun status here) because Adam was breaking a lot of the trail. During our venture, we even saw a rat scurrying around and just underneath the snow itself.

We made to the Walkley transit station, had our requisite water break and then turned around and headed back. Once more, we took advantage of the rail bed and ended right back where we started.

So, today, I added another 6 kilometres to my I-thought-I-was-done total and now stand at 66.4. However, today, and I really mean it this time, I'm putting my skis, boots, poles and gaitors away. Seriously. No, I mean it, seriously.

Now, if y'all will excuse me, I had some dental work done today and my jaw's just a little bit sore.