It’s Not All Mary Poppins


This is my street.

The signs went in our snowbanks yesterday, bringing joy to the hearts of the householders. Ours is “one of the worst streets in the city.” I have this on good authority: a cabbie (who would know better?). His jaw dropped when he turned onto my block. His quiet “fuuuuck” was tinged with awe. He proceeded gamely, though, wincing as the belly of his car scraaaaped along the crusted snow.

Our “street” consists these days of two narrow, ice-lined tenches. You don’t really need to steer: the trenches grab your tires and you go.

You go slowly, because a bump could remove something from the bottom of the car, or at least pierce it. With the belly of your car no more than a couple of centimetres off the icy surface between the two trenches, and often actually scraping it, there is not much room for error.

But the signs went up yesterday: “No parking on the street from 0700 to 1900”. Not that we’ve been able to park in the street for a month now. The street is one lane. Two ruts in the snow. You “park” on the street, you block the entire thing.

Two cars meet, someone has to pull into a drive to let the other guy pass. And getting out of the drive, with the street so narrowed by enormous snowbanks, means that there isn’t sufficient turning radius simply to back out your car. It always involves at least a three-point back-and-forth, and sometimes more, manoeuvring your way out.

The clear area outside my house is about six square feet. Oh, so if some anal-retentive stickler for accuracy came with a tape measure, you’d probably find it was marginally bigger — but it feels like six feet! The driveway has been full of a neighbour’s car. The sidewalk has been ploughed, but insufficient to the demands, and most people’s houses have little more than a narrow footpath between looming banks. (Mine is better. I am originally from Toronto, where householders are expected to shovel their own walk.) The road is, as I’ve said, two icy ruts in the rock-hard snow.


There is nowhere to play! The snowbanks have been carved into walls by the passing sidewalk plows, and offer no purchase for scaling. I’ve taken them out, but with six square feet of snowy cage to play in, I’m not about to arm them with the ever-thrilling snow shovels (aka the “let-me-poke-your-eye-out” sticks). In six square feet there isn’t much room to get the blood flowing to keep their little selves warm, and within five minutes they’re bored and complaining of the cold. Twenty minutes dressing five little bodies for five minutes of standing-around-in-the-cold-being-bored hardly seems worth the effort.

Makes for a quiet street.

But the signs went up yesterday!! I’ve described the procedure before. (NB. If you don’t know what “procedure” I’m talking about, you MUST go follow that link. Particularly if you or your child loves heavy machinery.) It’s noisy, it makes the street impassible while it’s happening … but at the end of it, we will go from two ruts between snowbanks to a street wide enough for two cars! At the same time! And sidewalks, too!!! The sense of glorious SPACE you get after they’ve been through is indescribable to someone who hasn’t experienced it. Or lived for a month in a six-by-ten box.

The signs went up yesterday. The signs went up yesterday, and they are still there, jutting out from the enormous snow banks. The machines did not come. Our hearts are in our Thinsulate-lined, yak-trakked boots. And now? Now, outside my office window I hear the delicate glittery tinkle of freezing rain.

I think we will be staying inside again today…

March 19, 2008 Posted by | Canada, Ottawa, outings | 9 Comments