Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The first day of winter

Written 4 weeks ago...

It has been snowing since yesterday. Non-stop. My children just had to go out to play in the fresh snow this morning. For my daughter, who is 5, it is like the first winter for her. She doesn't remember how winter works. The kids had to come back into the house, strip off their wet snow pants, coats, mitts and boots so that they could eat their breakfast and strip off the pajamas that they wore outside underneath their outdoor layers.

Today is the beginning of our winter schedule, which involves doing everything earlier because there are so many things to put on before we go outside and because once we get to the car we have to brush the snow off all of the windows and sometimes off of the roof of the car so that it doesn't slide down onto the windshield while I'm driving the kids to school. Today is the beginning of waiting for the car to warm up. Today is the beginning of pulling off my gloves so that I can buckle my daughter up into her booster seat. Fortunately, my son can buckle himself in. My son is 7 going on 8. While I am buckling my daughter up my son starts the car so that it has a chance for the heater to do it's job of warming us up before we get to school.

As we began our short drive to school my daughter asked if today was the first day of winter, and while I have explained to her many times already that there is an official date for winter, today I just say that yes, I guess it is the first day of winter. My daughter is thrilled by the prospect of it snowing everyday now that it is really WINTER. I tell her that just because it's winter it does not mean that it will snow everyday (at least I hope not). I tell her that when it is summer time it isn't sunny every single day, that sometimes it rains and that all 4 seasons can be full of surprises.

We arrive at school a few minutes late (as usual), the snow is the puffy type that makes driving a car more like steering a boat. I am relieved to see that the handicap parking spot across from the school is available for me and I park and hang up my parking permit.

I have begun to walk the children across the street, but as of three weeks ago my son now has the job of taking my daughter from the school-side curb, up the stairs (which has no railing), into the school and then down the stairs into her classroom. My son gets a loonie (one dollar) for each day that he does his job and my daughter gets a loonie for her part in cooperating.

Today was the first day that I have had to walk in the snow this year. I only had to walk about 12 feet with the kids to get them across the street. We said our goodbyes, repeated our daily assurances that I would pick them up after school and then they were on their way.

I turned around to return to the car, one step, two step, three step, and then I fell flat on my ass. And so I sat in the middle of the snowy road, my cane laying about a foot away from me, wondering how long I would be sitting in the middle of the road. Fortunately two parents see me, and one of the dads asks if I need help. I say "yes", and he and the other dad came to help. One of the dads has a daughter in my son's class. So while we don't know each others names he has now come to my rescue, lifting my small 90 pound body up as though I weighed nothing. The other dad handed me my cane and made sure that I got to my car without further incident.

This is the first time in three years of taking my children to school that I have fallen on the road. I gave fallen on the sidewalk a few times but was able to crawl to a pile of snow or some stairs where I could push myself up. Today was the first time I felt well and truly screwed.

And so begins a new winter. I have been dreading it since summer! And yet despite knowing what winter brings for me, knowing what I am in for, and having experienced it for decades tears come to my eyes because each fall brings a very fresh and yet familiar feeling of frustration, anger and the whiny thought "what the fuck am I going to do about this, I can't do this for one more winter, who can do this for me?-this delivering of my children-safely to and from school 3 times each day? The thoughts of finding a new place to live is ever-present. And despite that I have yet to live anywhere but this city that I was born to.

My husband and I have spent a lot of time looking for a place to live where we can maintain or improve our standard of living, where our children can continue to benefit from a good public education, where the weather is moderate, not too hot and not too cold.

So far, our search has been implacable. I want to move somewhere culturally diverse, with a moderate climate and a strong and supportive contemporary arts community (the latter of which I have here), where it is safe to live and yet a place that is not so far that my extended family can't come and visit without causing them too much financial strain. So, it would seem that my ability to figure out how to make life a little more digestible remains intractable.

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