Winter sneaks in early in the North Okanagan

Year after year, that first snowfall of the season always comes as a shock

Hanging from the branches of the huge maple tree in my front yard are fake cobwebs, cardboard ghosts and giant spiders on springs.

The apple tree in my backyard has apples still waiting to be picked. There might be a few tomatoes left on the vine in my garden. And don’t get me started on the leaves that still need to be raked. In other words, I am not ready for winter. Thursday’s snow storm was predicted by those who know weather, but was nonetheless completely unwelcome. And by the way, my Saskatchewan-born colleague is still mocking our use of the words, “snow storm,” but that’s another story.

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac — which was founded in 1792, so they should know — winter will be slightly warmer than usual, with less precipitation and snowfall this year. Perhaps the “less snowfall” part will occur later in the season.

Canadians love to talk about weather. I’m sure we don’t have the world market cornered on weather talk, but we sure do make a habit of it. And every year, it seems as though we are caught off guard by winter’s arrival. It’s Nov. 3, and it’s after Halloween, so I suppose cold weather should not come as a surprise. So why are we always surprised by it?

Last week, I made an appointment to have my summer tires switched over to winter, but couldn’t get into the shop until the middle of this month. I thought I was on top of things, but apparently, others are far more organized. My husband called me at work yesterday to make sure I was OK driving home. He knows I have a huge phobia about winter driving. When you grow up in Vancouver, you don’t get a lot of practice driving in snow. Of course, when you’re a kid, Vancouver’s legendary winter wimpiness means the schools shut down on snow days.

On Wednesday, I boldly wore shoes without socks. On Thursday, the boots, mitts and scarves came out of the closet, literally. I swear it was only five minutes ago that I was luxuriating on the beach, a good book in hand, as the kids played in the lake.

Does winter sneak up on us earlier every year, due to advancing age? I’m not sure. The winter solstice is actually Dec. 21, also the shortest day of the year. So apparently it’s not even winter yet. Sigh.

Like most people, I like to complain about winter. I hate the cold, I hate the ice. But then the ski season opens at Silver Star, I bundle up and off I go. It’s my way of not just getting through the season, but of actually enjoying it. Also, I get to sit by the fire when I get home, and that’s one of life’s greatest pleasures. Oh, and skating outdoors. Never got to do that on the coast, so it’s still a thrill.

And of course this week at Silver Star, everyone is doing their happy dance. With a snow base of 58 cm at press time, the scheduled alpine season opening of Nov. 23 should be easily met. And I’ll be there. Well, maybe not Nov. 23. That’s a work day — I’d have to call in sick, and in my excitement at being on the slopes I’d probably post something to Facebook and the jig would be up. I’ll have to wait until the weekend.

And now that I’ve talked myself around to winter, there’s still one more hurdle to overcome. It’s the one that also somehow sneaks up on me every year, right after Remembrance Day. It’s the one that I swear, every year, I will be prepared for. And every year, I am not. I don’t know why. It’s always Dec. 25, so it shouldn’t be a shock. But it always is, and I won’t be ready.

But in the meantime, I have snow angels to make.

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