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RUSSELL WANGERSKY: December feelings for March snow

A fresh snowfall. —
A fresh snowfall. — 123RF Stock Photo

They took one of my coworkers away in an ambulance yesterday.

For privacy reasons, I’m not going to say any more than that, except to say that, like most of us nowadays, she was buried in work. And, diligent person that she is, she’s probably thinking about that mountain of work from the discomfort of her hospital bed.

That got me thinking. It’s been a hard winter already, and it’s not over. It’s probably just the particular age I’m at, but I feel like I’m completely surrounded by death and serious illnesses. Every few days, it’s another email or message about someone’s parent or relative — or worse, someone’s child or sibling — facing a new medical hurdle.

I often fall into the “if I just get through the things I’ve promised to do this month” hole — and then, by the time the end of the month rolls around, I’m just as committed for the next month, and I’m once again promising myself that it’ll be OK if I get to the end of that month…

And I’m not alone in accepting extra things and watching the work pile up. Lots of people have the same complaint. I’d say it’s the most common complaint I hear when I run into someone I haven’t seen in a month or more.

The new solution for someone leaving their job isn’t to hire a new employee — in plenty of businesses, the approved method seems to be divvying up the workload amongst whomever happens to be left.

Work-life balance often seems to mean, “We need you to stay healthy enough to do your job, because we don’t really have any backup anymore.”

True balance is rare — available only if it doesn’t actually interrupt your work duties.

Newfoundland’s been pummeled with wind this winter. I’ve spent countless days walking to and from work with it whistling around my ears, while I plagiarized Bob Dylan in my head and groused about “the idiot wind.” It’s been ice pellets and graupel and sleet and freezing rain. Occasional snow squalls — an infrequent blizzard or two.

Except Saturday.

Work-life balance often seems to mean, “We need you to stay healthy enough to do your job, because we don’t really have any backup anymore.”

Saturday, it was fine, slow fat flakes teetering down, catching up on the tops of the spruce branches and settling on my sleeves while I walked in the woods. Storybook snow.

Then, Sunday, it was windless again, the temperature up around freezing, and it was easy to spot the curving trails of squirrels meandering out of the brush, the pounded-down highways of the rabbits showing you the absolutely perfect narrow squeeze for setting a successful snare.

Snow had blown into rilled snowbanks across the trail where there were gaps between the trees, and even though it was sunny, occasional snow was falling out of the blue sky, turning as it fell and catching the light, bright-white when the flats of the flakes met sun straight on.

Now, that’s the kind of thing you notice and appreciate in November or December, right? The beauty of first snow is a particular thing.

When the whole idea of winter weather is new, not when it’s been months of torment and what you really, really want to see is pounding rain and all the ice and snow being swept away for spring.

But I was having December feelings for March snow, which shows how few times I’ve actually been able to get out and away from my desk.

And I was thinking that life has become like that now: all howling, idiot rushing wind, and precious little else. Or is it little precious else?

If I can just get through to the end of March, well, things should lighten up then.


Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 36 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at — Twitter: @wangersky.


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