Uphill in a snowstorm

By Penny Caldwell »Penny Caldwell

March 6th, 2007

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Where were you when the storm hit? Not the tornadoes of last summer (though – shameless promotion – watch for a feature on those storms and how to prepare for them in the next issue of Cottage Life). I’m talking about the snowstorm last Thursday, during which I was waiting at the York Mills subway station in Toronto for my sister to pick me up. We had planned to skip out of town a day early to drive to Collingwood for some skiing. Did I say skip?

Maybe you know the York Mills station. It’s situated at the intersection of two busy roads, in a valley. Which means that no matter which way you’re heading, after you hit the intersection you have to go up a hill. A slippery, icy hill.

I’d been waiting an hour when she called. She was a couple of blocks away. Forty-five minutes later, she called again. Traffic wasn’t moving, people were getting out of their cars to push one another up the hill. Could I walk through the storm to meet her? If we were both stuck waiting, she said reasonably, we might as well wait together.

By the time I trudged through the snow and climbed into her car, I was ready to call off the trip. She was determined to go. And I guess I could understand. Haven’t we all experienced the feeling of wanting to get out of the city so badly, we’d almost consider walking to the cottage? (Not to mention that she had a free night with no kids.) Ever the organized one, she also had snacks. We didn’t really have a deadline. And so we ploughed on – literally.

Twenty years or so ago, before kids, and before time became such a rare commodity we couldn’t throw it around without budgetting every minute, I savoured time in the car with friends and family. My husband and I would set off for the cottage with a plate of cheese and crackers and a cooler of cold drinks. We’d get on Hwy. 400 in the beautiful early evening light, and we’d talk and listen to music and catch up on each other’s news. Back then, the weekend started as soon as we got into the car.

And so it was last Friday. We talked and caught up and stopped for dinner at Tim Hortons in Barrie and then continued on with fresh coffee in hand. The farther north we got, the better the weather became, and when we finally reached our destination, we were surprised to find that we’d taken nearly seven hours to do the drive that we usually finish in two. It didn’t matter.

Getting there was three times the fun.

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