Valentine’s Day 1990: he proposed marriage to me on that same rink, after which we popped the cork off a bottle of champagne. The image of that cork bobbing along on Lake Ontario is still etched in my memory.
Valentine’s Day 2011 (yeah, okay, quite a hiatus in celebrations), we sharpened our skates for a reminiscent skate on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, where we now make our home. It was raining as we headed out for the evening. Strong head winds kept both of his hands on the steering wheel as we navigated Colonel By Drive, checking out the skaters on the canal. Only there were no skaters on the canal. There was nary a soul on the canal. Just enormous puddles of water on the melting ice surface. It looked downright miserable.
As with many marriages approaching their third decade, the effort required in maintaining a balance of family responsibilities and romance has certainly tipped off balance of late, mostly because our lives – and the lives of our 3 children – seem to be throttling forward at a bristling speed. We actually made an effort this year, though and – damn her – Mother Nature did not cooperate.
Not to worry. As we stepped out of the wretched weather into the warmth of the trendy little downtown Ottawa restaurant, delicious aromas swathed our senses. “A glass of champagne, please”, I requested, as did my husband. We may not be skating on this Valentine’s Day but we are still drinking champagne. There is hope for us yet!
A major snowstorm recently blanketed most of the North American East Coast with an amount of snow not seen in recent memory. When Washington, DC gets any snow it makes the news but when pounded with 40cm, we’re talking epic headlines. Among the news events were stories that us northerners are all too accustomed to hearing about: road traffic accidents, airport delays and cancellations and back-breaking shoveling but this story on CNN took me by surprise:
Normally, such an event is initiated with the ever-powerful declaration: “Pssst. Snowball fight at recess. Pass it on…” Two snow forts usually erected with the first snowfall are used by the warring parties all season long. In this case, the battle was organized via Twitter and some 200 people participated in a good ol’ neighbourhood snowball fight. Unfortunately, because Washingtonians are amateurs in the snowball fight arena, a street corner was chosen as the site of their siege. As veterans know, a local park or schoolyard serves as a much more effective battleground. Even more regrettable is that some passing cars got caught in the mêlée and a plain clothed detective happened to be driving one of them. This is part of the story where the North Pole meets the Wild West: he hops out of his car and threatens the snow warriors with his drawn gun. Someone calls 9-1-1 and an officer shows up with his gun drawn too. Thankfully no one was hurt. After calm was restored, some of the snowball slingers started chanting, “You can’t bring a gun to a snowball fight! You can’t bring a gun to a snowball fight!” While it might be constitutionally permitted in the US, it is still considered a major faux pas by most soldiers of snow.
For the record, lest I sound too smug in my interpretation of winter fun, I do believe good ol’ snowball fights are no longer permitted on schoolyards having been declared as behaviour not conducive to student safety. So much for the Great White North.