Saturday, 16 February 2019

The Fine Art of Holing Up

From sea to sea, our great nation is suffering under the siege of Snowmageddon. It’s brutal out there.

It’s snowing here on the island, too. We are calling it the Big Snow at our house. It started snowing steadily last Sunday morning, depositing about 18 inches of white stuff, forcing school closures, causing accidents, delaying travel plans, and even causing shortages on the shop shelves: shortages of shovels and salt, shortages of dairy products and breads because the delivery trucks can’t get through. This is serious business.

When we first moved here we believed the propaganda about Vancouver Island, Canada's banana belt: cherry blossoms and daffodils in February. Balmy climes. Ski in the morning, golf in the afternoon.  “Sure it rains, but you don’t shovel rain,” implying that we could leave our snow shovels behind forever when we left the Prairies (hence the shortage of shovels on Canadian Tire’s shelves now). But it’s not so. Fake news. The first time it snowed, our new neighbour, an ex-Albertan,  exclaimed, “Wait a minute. This isn’t what we signed up for. I’m going to write a letter to my MP, complaining.”

"At least you don't have to shovel it," they said. Ha! Fake news.

Personally, I think we should build a wall to keep snow off the island. It’s invading our territory, and it’s not funny. There should be a law against it.

We were just fine without it before, but now here it is, sneaking in without a green card, taking over our roads, wreaking havoc with schools and businesses, causing unnecessary stress on hospital emergency wards. Who knows where this will lead? Perhaps we should follow my neighbour’s lead and begin writing letters of protest to our members of parliament, agitating for stricter barriers between us and the mainland.

Just kidding. Sure, we can fight it, but we will never win this battle, so may as well make the best of it. That is why, this week, the week of the Big Snow, I’m practicing the fine art of “holing up.”

The dictionary defines “holing up” in various ways: to hide out in a hole or cave; to stay in a particular place as a refuge from something; remain secluded or in hiding. Apparently, some word police (very snooty ones, in my opinion), think we should not use this phrase – it is too slangy. Instead, we should say, “concealing oneself” or “secreting oneself” or “taking cover” or “sheltering.” Bah humbug to the word police, I say. Holing Up is a fine, earthy, robust phrase full of meaning and nuance beyond those hoity-toity phrases.

It’s an earthy term because it comes out of the animal kingdom, where some animals pass the winter in a state of hibernation, retreating to a cave or hole and snoozing away until the worst has passed. Scientists tell us that hibernation  “is a process of lowering an animal’s body temperature and slowing down its heartbeat in order to conserve energy during times of scarcity and stress.”

In winter, humans also may pass through times of scarcity and stress. Snow shovels are sold out, grocery shelves are bare, the kids are tearing up the house because school has been cancelled, so what do you do?  Hole up! Hibernate.

To me, Holing Up means that you have decided to kiss the world goodbye temporarily. Holing up means you choose to ignore what’s happening out there, and instead enjoy the comforts you have at home. Holing up may mean that you take the phone off the hook, stay in bed till noon reading umpteen books, and cook calorie-rich comfort food. You choose to do the bare minimum to keep body and soul together, but no more than that. Holing up is something you choose to do for your own good until the danger has passed.

Now some people choose to hole up in a warm, sunny climate like Florida or Arizona where they can golf and hang out with other escapees. Last year at this time, the RS and I did just that. Or they hunker down for the duration on a cruise ship, pretending there’s no such thing as winter – “Look, ma, I’m playing shuffleboard and hanging out in the pool,” they write on their postcards. And that’s all fine and good, but my theory is, and I am sticking to it, that, if we can’t get away, the good Lord means for us to use these times of severe weather to take a little Sabbath rest. It’s not only animals that hibernate; in the plant kingdom, many plants go dormant in the winter, conserving their strength to emerge from the snows stronger than ever. The daily clock ticks through its diurnal and nocturnal rhythms – hours of sunlight for growth and activity, and hours of darkness for rest and recovery. Ditto for the seasonal calendar. Everything living needs a time of rest.

And I’m taking mine, right now, so that’s the end of this blog post. Talk to you later when I emerge from my hole; if I see my shadow, it may be a while before you hear from me again.

No comments:

Post a Comment