Discovering there’s still more work ahead of me

Allow me to take a few paragraphs to ponder, yet again, on the differences between my previous home and my current one. I’m not sure if everyone cares for my views, but the more time I spend away from southern Ontario, the more I tend to chuckle about it.

Allow me to take a few paragraphs to ponder, yet again, on the differences between my previous home and my current one. I’m not sure if everyone cares for my views, but the more time I spend away from southern Ontario, the more I tend to chuckle about it.

For three days last week, the media in Toronto, my home for the last decade, could talk of nothing but impending doom. Visitors and tourists must have thought the end times were upon them, such was the noise the 24 hour news stations made about the approaching chaos.

The name of that chaos? Snow.

Or, more specifically, since clever news writers there insist on puns that would make an Interior News editor proud, Snowtorious B.I.G. Or Snowpocalypse ‘11. Actually, I’m not sure what the final verdict was on the official name for ‘the big storm’; since I don’t live there any more, I only really pay attention to what my family and friends post on Facebook. Whatever the final name was, the storm of the century (of 2011 – there seems to be a storm of the century on a yearly basis) spat out roughly 15 cm of snow. And that was Snowmageddon, apparently.

Today in Smithers, roughly 15 cm of snow fell over a 12 hour period.

We called it Sunday.

Of course, the problem with feeling superior is that everything is relative. A few weeks ago, I had the chance to take my first horse-drawn sleigh ride. The trip was arranged for a group of foreign exchange students from Smithers Secondary School, who were out for the purpose of having a truly Canadian experience. Sure, I’ve been on a few hay rides in the past, with aging nags dragging dilapidated frankentrailers, but this was the real deal – B & T Sleigh Rides have some gorgeous animals, pulling some painstakingly handcrafted sleighs. When the sleighs arrived at the fire pit, everybody started roasting hot dogs and making s’mores, and soaking up the general Canuck vibe. An unintended consequence of that trip was putting my inflated opinion of my own winter skills into perspective.

I started asking the exchange students, who came from several European countries as well as China, about their experiences in Canada so far. It’s almost like I’ve been racing to try all the same activities they’ve been taking part in.

Downhill skiing or snowboarding? Check.

Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing? Check.

Ice skating on a frozen lake? Check.

Camping out overnight in a frozen ice cave that you dug out yourself? Wait — pardon? Winter camping? In an ice cave?

There’s no reality check quite like discovering that a group of high school girls from other countries are more experienced in the bush than I am. Apparently I’ve still got quite a bit of work ahead of me if I’m going to make the transition from ex-city boy to northerner.

At least I can say I’ve made some killer s’mores in my time. That’s got to count for something, doesn’t it?