Maynard van der Galien
I got some groceries on the first snowy day in November and was rather amused to see a few shoppers come out of the store with a long handle ice scraper among their groceries. You know the type, there’s a brush on one end to clean snow off the vehicle and a strong plastic ice scraper on the other end.
There they were, if you needed one. Right inside the front door was a bin full of the scrapers. Smart store manager, I thought.
I chuckled because I have two of those handy scrapers and a few of the little scrapers. They aren’t a piece of junk that break when you vigorously chop at the frozen snow or ice on your windshield. I’ve had mine for years. Now to be fair, I don’t do a lot of ice chopping with it because I keep my vehicles in the garage.
When spring comes I put the scrapers on the top shelf in the garage out of the way. They go back in the vehicle when snow comes. Do the folks buying new scrapers throw them out when spring comes? We live in a throw-away society.
I’ve heard about kids not being able to attend school on the first day that there was a fairly heavy snowfall because they didn’t have winter boots, or the parents hadn’t gotten them yet. What happened to the winter boots or winter jacket that they wore last winter? What happened to good housekeeping?
When I listen to the radio or watch the television news I’m frequently given advice on how to stay warm on wintry days, or how to stay cool on hot summer days. It bugs me when weather forecasters advise their listeners to take along an umbrella because there’s a 40 per cent chance of showers late in the afternoon. Makes them feel good I guess, about warning us. What’s wrong with getting a little wet on a hot summer day? It’ll dry off. You don’t even see people under an umbrella when it’s raining.
One really good piece of winter advice weather forecasters can tell viewers over and over is to slow down when driving. It scares me when a little car pulls out to pass me on slushy roads and I’m driving the speed limit in my solid and sturdy half-ton truck.
Slow down. Fog, black ice, slush or snow-covered roads can make driving dangerous. Drive slowly and leave plenty of distance between vehicles. Get winter tires. Traction is the key to good movement, turning and stopping on wet, slushy or icy surfaces.
See and be seen. Clear all snow from the hood, roof, windows and lights. Clear all windows of fog or ice. If visibility becomes poor, find a place to safely pull off the road as soon as possible.
And wear winter clothing and winter boots when driving — and I mean everyone in the vehicle. Be prepared for the cold freezing temperatures if your vehicle gets stuck or goes into a snowbank or ditch.
Since I’m dishing out sensible winter advice, here’s one thing that puzzles me year after year. It seems to me that guys with a shaved head like to show how tough they are and sport that Bruce Willis look as they walk around bare-headed in cold weather. Wear something warm on your head. I’m freezing wearing a toque and I see these bare heads walking down the street. I saw a guy the other day in the store parking lot coughing as he was walking to the store, maybe to pick up an ice scraper. Nothing on his head and he was wearing a thin jacket.
I’m a big fan of snowmobile outings on the well-groomed trails and every winter a trail crosses my farm land. I enjoy seeing groups of snowmobilers going by but not at the speed some are going. They’re flying by. Seldom do I see someone just putting along. Everyone is racing. I’d like to know where they’re going in such a hurry. The legal trail speed limit is 50 km/h.
I might sound like an old curmudgeon but here’s my last bit of winter advice. I’m disgusted by seeing those big cheap balloon-like plastic snowmen, Santa Claus, reindeer and the like at the front of people’s homes. So many are sprouting up everywhere. They are very cheap looking. Looks like stuff made in China. Put some effort into your winter or Christmas display. But not with plastic!
Have yourself a Merry Christmas and a blessed and safe one!
Maynard van der Galien is a Renfrew-area farmer and a long-time columnist with Farmers Forum.