Opinion Column

A love-hate relationship with snow

By Jim Foster

We were sitting around a pool in St. Petersburg, Fla. yesterday afternoon talking to a bunch of Canadians and an American walked by. How he knew we were Canadians, I'm not sure, unless it was because we were all old geezers wearing Blue Jay hats and complaining about their watery beer, which hasn't been watery for 40 years, but we refuse to acknowledge the fact.

Sure enough, he made the usual comment that Southerners do whenever we tell them where we we're from: "The snow must be awful up there."

We all came up with the same lies about the cold and the sleet storms, and polar bears plodding down the main street of Orillia. You know, the usual stuff.

But after another Bud, I began to really think about snow, our relationship to it, and how do we know we are Canadian. Sure, we may have been born here, or immigrated from God-knows-where, but that doesn't necessarily make us true Canadians. A true Canadian is something else again. Of course you and I are, but we aren't so sure about the neighbour down the street or from another province. It is all very mysterious, this true-Canadian business, but there are signs that tell us who qualifies. There is the 'eh' thing and the hockey addiction. Hockey players are easily identified by counting their teeth, but it isn't that, Canadian is an attitude.

In fact, it's a state of mind. Think about these and don't tell anyone or you might be taken for an American.

You are not a Canadian if you haven't had fantasies of Ron McLean and Don Cherry barenaked. I know I found that a bit scary myself.

You are not a Canadian if you haven't wondered if Marg Osborne and Charlie Chamberlain were getting it on. If you remember them, you are likely a Canadian, but an old one.

You are not a Canadian if you didn't know that a Fredericton seven-course dinner is six bottles of Moosehead and a fiddlehead sandwich.

You are not a Canadian if the autumn leaves drifting by your window fill your heart with fond memories of a care-free childhood and the bountiful blessing bestowed upon us by a loving God. To a real Canadian, autumn leaves are a pain in the ass.

You are not a Canadian if you didn't know Habitant Soupe aux Pois is what Pierre's 14 kids lived on while his wife, Marie, was in the hospital having the 15th.

You are not a Canadian if you think 'Je me souviens' means 'I am soup,' unless you are 'Anglais' then you probably are.

These are some of the signs that you are not, but surely there are signs you truly are Canadian and not just pretending to be to get the old fart's pension. Oui, mes amies, there are and the most accurate of them all is what we think of snow.

You know you're Canadian if you hate the thoughts of snow, curse the fact we get snow, worry because the ski resorts don't have enough snow, bitch about the skiers jamming the highways on the their way to the find snow, crab about your driveway filled with snow, curse because snow is clogging the roads, slowing traffic to a halt when you are rushing home to shovel snow, complain because the roof of your house might collapse under the weight of snow, whine because the damned snow gets down your boots, soaks your socks and freezes your toes, moan and groan because you have to buy the kids snowsuits, mittens and winter boots all because of flipping snow, phone city hall twice a day because their trucks didn't plow the snow, then rant and rave when they do and you can't get in or out of your driveway for the snow their trucks dumped when plowing snow.

Then we have the audacity when an American says "That snow must be awful up there," to smile and say 'Naaah, we're Canadians, we live for snow.'

Jim Foster is a columnist for the Packet & Times. He can be contacted at fosterjames@rogers.com.

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