I must have been looking the other way because it’s suddenly winter and very cold. The manageable minus three degrees, crisp sunshine and bracing air that chased us into the supermarket at the weekend were gone when we came out – replaced by snow tumbling from the vast black maw above and a wind-chill of minus fifteen, so that I almost thought we’d used the wrong exit and stepped out into Siberia.
“Yay, it’s the sticky kind!” yelled my eldest, ecstatic at the prospect of snowballs and frozen frolics. Somehow we manhandled both shopping and three wired children into the Jeep – and then the fun began.
It was indeed the sticky kind. It stuck to the roads and became a slick mirror reflecting with crystalline cruelty the impotent wheelspins of drivers wrestling Momentum for control.
Each intersection on the journey home became a heart-hammering, suspense-filled “Are we going to stop in time?” game – but with flesh and bone housed in great chunks of metal muscle instead of pixels on a screen.
Our short, intense trip took us past fire engines and crumpled bonnets, across the path of traffic when the icy brakes couldn’t do any more than slow us too slowly, and finally, thankfully, home – in one piece.
Coming to Canada has been a learning curve that continues even after forty plus months. Take snow tires, for instance. Many people fit them once temperatures drop to single digits (seven degrees Celsius is the magic number) and insurance companies reflect this good sense in a reduced premium. When we first bought our car we figured, with the efficiency of the plows and gritters here, they were an unnecessary expense only really needed if you lived in a more rural area...