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I stepped outside on what was supposed to be a cold winter day in the middle of February and the first drops of rain landed on my jacket. Quickly, the raindrops turned into freezing rain, hitting the already slick snow-coated roads and pavement, turning everything into the world’s largest skating rink. Almost as quickly, Facebook posts turned everyone’s attention away from the great wall of Mexico long enough to warn everyone within the rain zone of the dangers of driving and climbing slippery stairs. For a few hours, the temperature climbed to a positive number and the talk was about climate change and the reasons why we endured ages of steady and dependable weather forecasts.

The last real ice storm, as it eventually became known, was in 1998. The southern communities of Quebec were the hardest hit and we enjoyed teeth-chattering cold spells that lasted throughout the entire ordeal. We weren’t really affected, but we were concerned about our southern neighbours. Local governments gathered their people together to aid the people of the south and a strategy to harvest the trees to produce ready chopped wood to heat the homes of the urban south.

We were ordered outdoors to help with what seemed to be an endless marathon of sawing down trees and chopping them into usable firewood. As I recall, it was -40ºC and we gave our best to completely fill two empty transport trucks with our contribution of dry wood. A full day later of bone-chilling cold, which was no real match for our energized bodies, the trucks left with our warmest tidings of good old-fashioned energy-laden wood.

We all signed a piece of wood and left messages of hope and cheer. We eventually heard that the people of the Townships, where our good will was taken, were so happy and amazed that their friends from the north would do something this charitable. Days turned into weeks and slowly power and heat returned to the homes of southern Quebec and memories of this ice storm were replayed for a number of years, with the media wondering when the next storm would hit as hard as it did back then.

This day, with studded tires and wary drivers, the Internet and Facebook helped keep travellers off the roads. Air transport was delayed for a day and the people of northern Quebec shrugged off a half inch of ice and went about their daily business. Just another day of weird weather noted, who knows what tomorrow would bring. I was actually glad for the warm spell, which was warm enough to wear only one pair of long johns and shoes instead of the 100º below rated Antarctic footwear. My light winter jacket managed to produce enough heat to melt my cold heart, hardened and frozen solid from the last several months of cold, cold winter blues. Cabin fever is nothing compared to being isolated in a room with only endless television and most of it telling us stories of the demise of American politics. Oh, give me a home where the signal can’t roam and the days are filled with stories of old.

On another note, apparently, the universe isn’t as vast and empty as we once thought. NASA announced that a nearby solar system might be cluttered with habitable planets, just 40 light years away. I guess one day, we will reach out to the stars and neighbouring galaxies to romp in oceans of pure water and pristine wilderness, untouched by humans, naturally and it might be a great choice to settle in the next thousand years or so. Maybe it isn’t polluted yet and given the lessons learnt here on Earth, we won’t destroy it with ignorance of a settler’s mindset.

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