Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter Rain

Back in British Columbia I used to hear it from the old-timers: "You can't get a heart attack shoveling rain." It's meant to contrast with snow, of course, and the rest of Canada, but I always got stuck halfway. Picturing some guy grimly shoveling puddles. Maybe someone crazy, the local loon in some small town. His motto, yelled to all the amused faces in the passing Via Rail train: "You can't get a heart attack shovelin' rain!"

We got a lot of rain today, but an hour or so to the west, around Mt. Wachusett, they got wet, heavy snow, up to nine inches, the kind you can get a heart attack shoveling. Usually rain is the booby prize, the shameful pink part of the satellite map, relegated to Cape Cod and the islands. Poor Cape Cod, denied the brunt of the latest nor'easter with the exciting accumulation of 5 to 9 inches or 18 to 25, and TV reporters out in the battering wind between shots of sanders on the highways ("stay inside and let them do their work") and surf smashing against a sea wall. No snow days. No rhythmic, dogged scrape of snow shovels the morning after. No looking for a goddamn parking place between plow-butted glaciers. Just ugly boring unshovelable rain.

Today, it's our turn to get the pink fringe. So I salute the winter rain and make it my advent window for 12/9. It's definitely part of the other December, the killjoy annuller of the white Christmas. It steams up the bus windows and the Internet café windows and ruins the wood you piled outside for the fireplace. It lacks the celebrity of solid water. It's just water. It runs. Unpleasantly. Down the back of your neck. Raincoats are insufficient and winter coats are too much. Wet scarves smell. Wet gloves tend to stay wet. So do wet tuques. But it doesn't care. It drips and it drums to the hearty refrain: "You can't get a heart attack shovelin' rain!"

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