On days like these, describing Edmonton’s seasons as eight months of winter and four months of bad tobogganing doesn’t seem like hyperbole. A May snow storm isn’t any more unusual than a December snow storm, the only difference is that December snow usually sticks around for more than a few days, and a May snow storm can damage trees that have started to bud and flower.
As I rolled down the hill towards the High Level Bridge through the fresh snow, I decided to chance taking the bike path that runs between two long rows of caraganas for one last slalom fest of the season and was greeted by a Xmas card scene of droopy hedges. “How bad could it be?” I thought as the first few branches flicked off my face, then whap, whap, bigger branches slapping my face, flinging more snow, WHAP, completely blinded by a big branch and all the snow on it. Whap, whap, WHAP, WHAP, more branches, more snow, I can’t see where I’m going, my brakes aren’t working fast enough, my face is getting scratched, caraganas are jumping out at me, grabbing my hood and stealing my hat, WHAP, finally I skid to a stop.
The bike path seemed like a good idea at the top of the hill.
I stopped just before the obstructions got worse and ended up crawling underneath the leaning trees, dragging my bike behind me. And this was but the beginning of my journey. The bike paths on and leading to the bridge were uncleared and slushy (meanwhile, crews were completely clearing the square block of no-bikes concrete known as Churchill Square), and in some places all the bicycle tracks merged into a single tire wide line through the heavy snow. Downtown, a massive clump of snow rained down on me from the roof of a large building, leaving me looking like Frosty the Biking Snowoman. I must have been quite a sight when I walked into work with squishy boots, several inches of snow on my head & shoulders and a hood full of snow. Several people just said “wow.”
My ride home was a little less eventful, and I decided to skip the caragana experience the second time around. I arrived home exhilarated, tired, sweaty, cold, to a voicemail from my friend Chris. “If you happen to be passing by the bicycle bottleneck this afternoon, make sure you take the multi-use trail through the trees and take some pictures cause it’s really gorgeous. I had to crouch ’cause the trees are drooping from the snow, but it’s really quite magical.”
Magical? I did have an encounter with hat swiping ents, so I’ll get behind that sentiment.
The next day, I took a joy ride through snow covered fields.
Studs meet spring. It's green under all that snow!
And it was such a lovely, fun ride that I was powerless to suppress a beaming smile. The snow will be gone in a few days and be replaced by green. It will take with it the layer of dust that’s been covering everything for the past month and leave behind fresh spring air and the hope that the land won’t dry up beneath our feet and blow away. It will be the true beginning of the season of growth.