-by Frank Macdonald
The weather leads the news a lot. Probably because meteorologists have developed a few new toys since the hey days of weather balloons. This allows them to tell us, in greater detail, about the foul mood the world is in.
Atlantic Canada gets its share of winter attention on the weather news, and this has been a banner winter for snowmobiles and driveways. I don’t have a snowmobile. I do have a driveway. Snow gathers in it like kids on a street corner. The snow sits all over the car, builds a fortress around it, and the only escape route is blocked by the snowplough’s sick sense of humour.
I can wait winter out, hoping for a June thaw. There’s also the shovel, and something I need to do today that can’t wait til June. So I join Canada’s UN-Smart Heart Club.
I’m timid about shoving the spade’s blade into the fresh, sparkling snow for fear of what I will uncover. When weather warnings lead the news, there’s still a whole lot of other, mostly ugly stuff to follow. My gut tells me that the snow is probably going to be the best part of this task.
I lift the first layer of snow and what pops up is like an early-rising groundhog with an orange head promising to shut his country down. The Democrats tell him that if he will just shut up for six months, stay Tweet-free, and take a long-deserved vacation at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, the Democrats will present him with a gilt-framed, photo-shopped portrait of the wall as he envisions it, with himself standing victoriously atop it. Anything photo-shopped is fake news, and that’s what he excels at, fake news.
I flip that shovelful of news over my shoulder and dig into another layer. A cluster of terrorism news items from around the world, none close enough to home to be a real news story. Someone else’s pain, irrelevant to us in the western world. I heave those over my shoulder, dig in again.
An infant has survived the collapse of a 10-story building in Russia, and so far it’s the only story that matters. A good news story that will be soon forgotten, which is the media’s idea of mercy. I place that shovelful gently aside.
The archeology goes deeper and deeper into the snow and stumbles onto the Canada-wide cannabis shortage. It’s a news story that gets a lot more coverage than the shortage of shelter beds for Canada’s homeless.
This is beginning to feel too much like work. The deeper I dig the heavier the snow gets, reminding me of shovelling cement on a number of winter construction jobs, jobs that sent me off in search of a different way to make a living. I stand back to see if the car is free.
Not free enough. I bend over to dig deeper into the world’s woes. The Chinese have landed on the backside of the moon. Some GPS manufacturer’s stocks are about to take a beating. Up comes a shovelful of refugee stories from Canada, the media’s desperate search for happy endings amid the millions of human tragedies around the globe. They are fate’s fortunate few. I lay that shovelful down gently, as well.
The next layer of snow had been covering something that has been pushing long and hard to get its story told. How did a nation such as Canada stand by for the entire length of its life without giving a compassionate thought to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women? Were we “just following orders?”
A brief respite comes when I lift up a few tv clips of both the Maple Leafs and the Raptors experimenting with the concept of winning.
Whoa! What have we here? Amid the ongoing sitcom called politics there’s a smile to be had. The first Right whale calf to be recorded in a year is frolicking in the Atlantic. Fishermen, it was costly and inconvenient but that calf probably exists because of you.
My car, trapped all night in snow, is all but excavated now, and my heart is still doing its primary job. Perhaps because I do have one of the most sensible driveways on Cape Breton Island. It is just one foot longer than my car. I have friends who have driveways that stretch half way to Newfoundland. I see them often shovelling beside their broken down snow blowers.
With a longer driveway, I might have had to dig up North Korea, or worse, another orange-haired snowman to pollute my yard with his toxic soul.