We’re experiencing a winter without snow in Toronto. Actually, it’s been a late 2011 and early 2012 without much of a winter.
In technical terms, the days between December 21 and March 21 are marching by. But they’re scurrying along much quicker without my having to shovel snow and worry about skidding all over the road while driving.
It’s undeniable, though, that these aren’t the manly days of yore when the white stuff was piled up to the rooftops on side streets.
I don’t know how it’s happened, whether thanks to global warming or due to the thermal bubble thrown up when six million people huddle together, but I’m grateful.
I didn’t feel this way when I was a boy. I loved the winter and freezing conditions. It was great to go outdoors and play hockey. Or ski when I reached my twenties and early thirties.
Canadians know the seasons are important. Gorgeous summers and wicked winters are our yin and yang, meteorologically speaking.
There are things we’re supposed to do in winter such as rev up the snowmobile for trail riding or sweep the ice while curling. Spring is reserved for dusting off the golf clubs. Summer’s for swimming and fall is about watching the leaves change colour.
That’s the theory. Never mind that throughout all the seasons and however attired – in light gear in the good months and laden down at double our body weights with overcoats and galoshes in the bad months – most of us spend our weekends and other free time trekking through shopping malls.
I worry about what no snow in winter will mean for the collective psyche.
When I was a child, one of my favorite activities was going to the wrestling matches with my parents. The spectacle wasn’t like it is now, where the object as far as I can determine is for a couple of men, or women, to climb into a cage and try to kill one another.
No, in the old days, it was a low-rent Broadway musical. The performers would dance around the ring and the choreography was at its best when the tag teams took over.
I remember very well Gene Kiniski and Gorgeous George and how they’d try to sneak behind a referee and pretend to gouge out an opponent’s eye. Then they’d touch hands with their partner and switch places in the ring.
They were sly devils and everyone knew they were having a good time.
When we spent summer at the cottage, we’d see Gorgeous George driving around in his purple Caddy convertible in Midland, Ontario. He’d be in town to put on a show at the local arena that night. Now there was a man who knew how to be a celebrity.
So why am I talking about the esoteric sport of tag team wrestling? Because it’s a metaphor for much of what defines this country.
Canada has always consisted of great partnerships. Think French-English. Wayne and Shuster. Mansbridge and Strombolopolous.
How can we have winter without snow? What’s next, summer without mosquitoes? Or black flies?
Since moving into middle age, I’ve been far more inclined to wish for less winter. But I didn’t think it would ever happen. I figured I’d have to wait until I got to heaven to experience a more temperate climate on a consistent basis.
I realize I’m being a little presumptuous about my final destination. It’s only ever been my best case scenario.
I know there’s an obvious solution in this lifetime, to become a snowbird. But that’s not a role I see myself playing. I’m averse to plaid shorts.
If the season this year isn’t just an aberration, we’ll have to get used to winters without the fluffy precipitation.
How difficult will that be? It’s instructive to think of analogies from among other famous Canadian dualities.
From hockey? It’ll be like Ron MacLean without Don Cherry.
Or the CBC? Lang without O’Leary.
The more I ponder it, the more heavenly it sounds.
Feel free to substitute your own pairings.
For our American friends to understand the kind of seismic shift I’m talking about, consider American Idol without Simon Cowell.
What? That’s already happened? Will wonders never cease?
Okay, now I’m being difficult.
I’d like to back up a bit. Messieurs Cherry, O’Leary and Cowell are all fine gentlemen.
Let me rephrase the comparison.
It’ll be like politicians without economists.
There now, I’ve taken a shot at myself.
I wouldn’t want to be a Canadian who isn’t polite.
The whole world’s heard of our mayor, Rob Ford, but he’s only one player in a wacky local political scene. What is one to make of the events in Bad Teeth and Smelly Feet (a.k.a. Toronto’s Plastic Bag Ban)?