To everyone in Belgium who doesn’t like winter, I apologize for the snow and I take full responsibility for it.
The snow is all my fault. I shouldn’t have shot my mouth off about moving to a ‘nicer’ climate. But I really hate winter. I hate snow. I hate the short, grey, depressing days. And I really, really hate to be cold.
The winters in Nova Scotia can be erratic at best. Because it’s a coastal province, it’s usually much milder than other parts of Canada. However, there can be the occasional massive snowfall. Last year was one such occasion.
The first snowfall of the year was a big one. Some 45cm of snow fell overnight. The weight of the snow was too much for our carport and sent it crashing down on top of our car. I vowed then and there to get far away from snow. It’s been stalking me ever since.
The year prior to the carport incident, we spent winter in Amsterdam. The one snowfall of the season was a powdered sugar sprinkling that barely covered all of the grass. Nobody went to work that day.
Of course, when you tell a Belgian you’re from Canada, the first thing they ask you about is the snow. As we tell the carport story, their eyes get wide and their jaw starts to droop.
“Oh we don’t get anything like that here,” says our neighbour. “In fact, we haven’t had any snow in three years.”
“At last I will be free from the snow,” I think.
I imagine a green Christmas and walking to the store in January without being bundled up like an Eskimo. No more sore arm muscles from shoveling the driveway. No more sore legs from trudging through the snow. I prematurely thank the Belgian weather gods.
“The canals only freeze here every eight years or so,” says our friend in Amsterdam.
“Really? When was the last time that happened?”
“Uh, seven years ago, I think,” he replies.
Then the Belgian news media begins to predict the worst winter on record for 50 years. I’m beginning to see the writing in the snow.
When you grow up in Canada, snow is just one of those things you learn to live with.
Everyone owns a wide assortment of shovels (for the different kinds of snow) and sometime in late October you put snow tires on the car and stock your trunk with the essentials: a shovel, an ice scraper, a bag of sand, jumper cables, lock deicer and a warm blanket.
Kids wait by the radio on snowy mornings to see if school will be canceled, but unless it is a major whiteout, they are out waiting for the buses as usual.
After the snowfall, the plows are out in full force … as soon as you’ve finished shoveling your driveway.
People basically just get on with their lives as usual.
Snow in Brussels pretty much catches everyone off guard. People don’t like to drive in it. There are few snowplows and most people don’t own winter tires.
When we moved to Belgium, we didn’t bring much in the way of snow gear. We have our winter jackets and some gloves, but we certainly didn’t think we’d need things like snow boots and we didn’t run out and buy shovels.
Now I know better. Where I go, the snow shall certainly follow.
I’m sorry Belgium — maybe next time I’ll try Greece.