A Dollop in My Honour

I live in Canada; I live in snow.  After a decent snowfall, when people leave their driveways to head off to work, the roads which have not yet been plowed get packed in with snow.  This causes slick driving conditions; slick driving conditions lead to accidents.

To allay this problem, Canadian transportation engineers have come up with a solution: sand the streets.

Now, imagine if you will, a young lady who was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona.  She had never seen snow until she was 12, and never saw it actually fall from honest-to-goodness snow clouds until her 20s.  To her, snow was the stuff of childhood Christmas movies–the stuff of dreams.  It was as real to her as fairy princesses or tax refunds.

Next, import the young Arizonan into Southern Alberta, Canada, where the only reason snow doesn’t last long is because hurricane-force winds come from the west and blow it all away.  When someone mentions “sanding the streets,” the first image that comes to her mind are the handheld orbital sanders she used to refinish her parents’ bathroom cupboards back when she was 13 and ambitious.  To her, “sanding the streets” involves some sort of giant rotating sander attached to the back of a government-issued tractor, slowly roughing up the top layer of ice just enough to provide friction for drivers.

That girl is me, and yes…I used to think they literally took sanders to the icy roads.

Imagine how embarrassed I was to find out it’s a bit simpler than that–all they do is sprinkle a sand/salt/calcium/secret agent chemical on the streets which simultaneously melts the ice and generates traction. {It’s good news that I’m majoring in English and not any sort of engineering whatsoever…}

Here in Canada, people not only sand the streets and salt the sidewalks (I pictured walking around outside with a salt grinder, crushing sea salt and sprinkling it around like the tooth fairy does with her pixie dust), but they plug in their cars.  Their cars!  It’s true–they plug in their cars at home on cold nights, and at little outlets provided by most parking lots.  In Arizona, that sort of extra heat added to a car’s battery would send it on the fritz in no time at all.

Learning to shovel snow has been a perilous lesson indeed.

The differences between my birthplace and my married place are vast, to be sure.  How do I survive the culture shock, some might ask?

Simple: I’ve learned that wool is not itchy when it’s 20 below, and hot cocoa tastes better with a giant dollop of whipped cream on top.

Have a dollop or two for me this weekend.

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at facebook.com/archivesofourlives, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
This entry was posted in Canada, do what I say, It's All Good, snow. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to A Dollop in My Honour

  1. HeatherPride says:

    Sounds good to me! No one has to tell me twice to drink hot chocolate with whipped cream!

  2. Whitney says:

    I will drink many cups of Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream in honor of you.

  3. Whitney says:

    Your still ashamed of me…

  4. Whitney says:

    oh… Jami, just showed me where it is… I suck. I didnt read your comment back to me. Sorry. I will change yours to Archives of our lives like you requested. Ha! Im an idiot.

  5. Holly Decker says:

    agreed- hot chocolate is awesome with whipped cream.

    you are not alone on the “how they salt the roads” discovery. i myself discovered that when i went on my mission to Boston. it was so curious to me how everyone just functioned like snow was normal… people just suddenly have snow plow jobs in the winter- and mailmen just take random days off when there is too much snow (well, then again, i WAS a missionary- so perhaps i just wasnt getting any mail!)

    anyways… i love how you describe the differences between an upbringing in Mesa and a married life in Canada. i giggled.

  6. Kimberly says:

    Oh my gosh how funny! I grew up in Seattle, so sand trucks are nothing new to me. But no one here in Tennessee knows anything about sanding the roads. I never thought of it the way you mentioned and that is absolutely hilarious!

    Oh and I am doing the card table thing with our dining room table, I’m just afraid the room itself isn’t big enough! If worse comes to worse, then I’ll have to set up the card tables in the living room :-) You do whatcha gotta do!

  7. Allison says:

    Oh yes, I remember sand and salt on the roads. Shoveling sidewalks. Cars refusing to start, if you were lucky they’d start, but then they’d veer towards the ditch, because once you add sand and salt, they grow minds of their own, and then your stranded along some country road without any other forms of life in sight. Maybe someday I will miss all that. But I sure haven’t yet….

  8. Heber says:

    Snow, hopefully someday I’ll live with it too. But alas I’m still missing out or maybe not.

  9. Jami says:

    You are so funny. It is true about living in mesa AZ. I didn’t see “falling” snow till I was like 17. I love snow…but it does seem VERY inconvinent. AND, TWENTY BELOW? Camille, you are crazy!

  10. RatalieNose says:

    Snowflakes keep falling on my head.

  11. I still have yet to see snow fall from the sky and I’ll be 24 next month. sigh.

  12. The Changing Face of Anonymity......................................................... says:

    Snow is a lovely type of precipitation to fall from the sky, i agree, fellow readers. So soft and gentle.I love the sparkle southern folk get when they first see it.
    I’m reminded of a day, i’m about 15, i’m hanging with the missionaries in the foyer of the Stake Centre, and the first snowfall of the winter starts outside, Elder Garner, just new to town, recently having left Galveston, Texas,..when he first saw the snow, he got all giddy, lit up like someone getting their first Barbie, ran outside in just his suit, no overcoat, and just stood there, letting the snow fall on his prematurely balding head, looked up in the sky, and all around, for what seemed like waaay too long. And then talked about it for more than awhile. It was most endearing.

    Isn’t it fun how some memories have such staying power. Thank you all.
    (Camille, pretend i’m not saying this, but, the salt/sand mystery combo is also trying to turn your car to an ugly rustbucket. I imagine you’ve seen some local examples of cars rusting out all around the wheelwells, where this snowsandsalt accumulates most).

  13. Anonymous says:


    When you said sanding the street initially in this post, I contrived the exact same image that you did. We must think alike.

  14. niki says:

    i am miserable just looking at that snow! brrrrr…. however, i do love any excuse to have me some hot chocolate!

  15. kayleen says:

    at least you’ll have a white christmas. that’s how christmas should be.

  16. Carmen says:

    Jaycie and I had hot chocolate with marshmallows instead of whipped cream the other day. Yum!
    We can’t really complain. There has only been one snowfall this year as of yet, at least only one in Lethbridge. I believe Raymond has gotten more snow that us even though we are 20 min away. And sorry, but I think it is really funny that you thought they actually ‘sanded the roads’. It made me laugh, but isn’t that part of the purpose of your blog to make people laugh? Don’t worry, I have had my fair share of thinking the wrong way. Just ask Jeff.

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