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I’m guessing that Gill is wishing she had booked a flight to the Caymans for Christmas rather than coming home to the land of snow and ice. Just after she arrived, we had the Great Ice Storm of 2013, the one that will go down in history as Step 1 in the Rob Ford Redemption Trail. The storm put the kibosh on Gill and Crazy D’s plans to go skiing. Too many downed trees on the cross country paths.

Looking for something physical to do, Crazy D, being the dutiful son, looked in the garage for the sidewalk salt. He couldn’t find more than a cup’s worth from last year’s supply. “Mom! How do you expect to keep the sidewalks clear with no salt?”

“I don’t really have those expectations. I do what I can with the dog-friendly de-icer and then I give up halfway through the winter. There’s no point really. People around here use the roads to walk on anyway and I figure, if the city doesn’t keep the sidewalk clear where they’re supposed to, why should I?”

Whereupon he went to the store and, the next time I went out to the garage, I found ten bags of salt piled up. I thought an invasion was about to be launched by an unfriendly country and this was my contraband stock of weapons of mass destruction. Crazy D went to work and soon we had the cleanest sidewalk on the block. The shrubs may all be dead come spring and the local bunnies use the walk for a convenient salt lick, but no matter.

More recently, we had The Snow Dump From Hell. L’il Sis had to go to work, so not shoveling and just hibernating was not an option. Out trotted Crazy D, prepared to do his manly duty and free the women of the house from the mounds of white stuff. After half an hour of shoveling, enough to get HIS car out of the driveway, off he drove to ferry L’il Sis to her job. We noted in passing that he had his gym bag with him. “Why are you taking that?” we queried.

“Oh, I’m going to pop into the gym since it’s close to L’il Sis’ work. I need a workout.” I thought he’d had one with the shoveling. And the other half of the driveway (the part behind MY car) was still six inches deep in snow.

Gill, perhaps feeling the need to re-establish her Canadian citizenship or wanting bragging rights for her return to England (they are always impressed and horrified at the Canadian climate and our frighteningly sturdy population), searched through the closets until she found my old down-filled coat and donned her silly elf boots. The snow was higher than they were but, as she noted defensively, at least they had something in the way of a tread. One only.

By the time I sauntered out to take in the scene, the snowplow had deposited a huge pile of frozen boulders at the end of our driveway. Gill was chipping away at the mess, while carrying on a conversation with the neighbour across the street. There truly is nothing like a snowstorm to bring out the spirit of camaraderie amongst neighbours. First they compared equipment, the pros and cons of certain styles of tools, measured each other’s piles of snowplow rubble…as I reread this, I realize it begins to sound a bit like two men in a pissing contest. Oh, well. They then shared tales of his missing spouse and Gill’s brother…one basking in sunny Arizona, the other sweating in a local gym. Then they decided on a suitable ‘retribution punishment’ for the return of the missing– digging out the ice boulders at the end of the properties. But even Gill couldn’t be that mean to her brother. I picked up another shovel and we, the aged, crippled, and infirm hacked away until the drive was clear. I was beginning to question my earlier decision to cancel my shoveling service this year — the theory being that Crazy D would always be here to be my new Snow Removal Guy.

“You’d better hope Crazy D doesn’t do too much traveling this winter, Ma,” Gill piped up.

As I logged onto my computer later, what did I find?  His routes for a bicycle race he’s entered in the U.S., a cross-Canada job and a gig in Japan — starting soon. I’m so screwed. I may soon be wishing for arthritic Gill in her elf boots wielding a toy shovel.