There’s al­ways a wood­pecker

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - SAFETY Harold Walters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Canadian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­ters663@

Looky here, it’s the mid­dle of Jan­uary. Get­ting on to­wards the dead of win­ter, eh b’ys? Con­sider the sta­tus of 24 hour snow clear­ing for a sec­ond. It doesn’t mat­ter to me what it is be­cause I’m caught in a Time Spi­ral that boomerangs me in Time like an au­to­mo­bile play­ing spin-top on a slip­pery high­way.

Mo­ments ago, the Spi­ral took me back to a morn­ing this past De­cem­ber. Yes, I know that’s only a month or so ago in Real Time, if there is such a thing, but…

“Harry, my most timely love,” says Dear­est Duck, who’s been by my side — and at my shoul­der — all the Times of my life, “what old fool­ish­ness are scrib­bling to­day?”

“An ear­lier Time, my Duck,” say I. “That Time in De­cem­ber when, at the crack of dawn, we hit the road for Costco.”

“Pfffttt,” says Dear­est Duck, or some such dis­mis­sive sound. “We are still pay­ing for that trip.” Any­way… It had snowed overnight and, ap­par­ently, plows were still snug­gled in their blan­kets — of snow? — at their var­i­ous de­pots. There was no sign that they’d tack­led the Ar­gen­tia Ac­cess Road.

As early ris­ing Face­book friends had posted, the road be­yond Dunville was “like the glass.”

“Per­haps we should turn back,” said Dear­est Duck as the ris­ing sun’s light glinted off the hard-packed snow.

“Be brave, my Duck,” said I, ap­ply­ing gas and urg­ing our Chevy on­wards.

“Take your time,” said Dear­est Duck, stretch­ing her seat­belt for­ward and adding an­other set of fin­ger­nail scars to the al­ready pocked and clawed dash­board. “Re­lax,” said I. Then, for bad­ness, I did some­thing stund. Well, not com­pletely stund. First, I checked that there was no other traf­fic on the road. First? Yes, first, be­fore I goosed our Chevy up to 110kms and then slammed on the brakes. Wheeeeeeeee! We spun round and round do­ing luge-like wheel­ies. Dear­est Duck’s em­bed­ded nails kept her braced un­til…

… the car’s arse- end smacked against a hu­mon­gous chunk of ice on the shoul­der and caused the fender dam­age that — see Dear­est’s re­mark above — we’re still pay­ing for.

Yes, I was an idiot. But if the plows hadn’t been sleep­ing I wouldn’t have been tempted.

“Harry,” says Dear­est Duck, “that is no ex­cuse. You might have killed us.” Speak­ing of id­iots. There’s a car­toon of Noah’s ark in which Noah and a boat­load of an­i­mal cou­ples are lean­ing over the gun­nels watch­ing dumb­founded and aghast as a wood­pecker ham­mers a hole in the hull an inch above the wa­ter­line.

The cap­tion: There’s al­ways an idiot on a boat.

“In­deed,” says Dear­est Duck, “and there’s al­ways an idiot on a snowy road.”

Pick a point in Time when you’re trav­el­ling on a high­way and snow is fall­ing. You and all the other sen­si­ble driv­ers [!] fol­low each other in ap­pro­pri­ate crawl­ing con­voy suit­able to de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tions. Then what? Be­fore too long, a glance in the rear-view mir­ror shows you a wood­pecker in an Al­berta truck, ac­com­pa­nied by its own four-wheeled bl­iz­zard, tan­nin’ ‘er broad­sides to all hands, bound for the front of the line.

Be hon­est. Don’t you hope that far­ther along you will see ol’ Buddy Wood­pecker nose down in the me­dian? “Harry!” Okay. An­other Time. Duck­ish — dou­ble-duck­ish considering Dear­est was at my side — of a snowy evening we are driv­ing into Dunville af­ter a weary re­turn trip from The Capi­tol. Even with the lights on low-beam snow whirls at the wind­shield in a vor­tex. Dear­est Duck’s fin­ger­nails are al­ready bent and bro­ken from a white­out near Wit­less Bay Line. Nev­er­the­less, she holds them poised, like Puss ready to pounce.

Half a kilo­me­ter in­side Dun- ville a wood­pecker on a trike — yes, a trike! — blasts from our slip­stream’s swirling snow, roars past on the driver’s side and cuts in front of us. “Frig,” wasn’t what I said. Dear­est’s al­ready punished nails sink knuckle-deep in the dash.

Then, ap­pear­ing sud­denly, like Spi­derman or some equally heroic pur­suer of Bad Guys — and mo­ron wood­peck­ers — an RCMP cruiser pulls out around us and high­tails it af­ter the trike’s van­ish tail­lights.

“Pluck that wood­pecker’s tail feath­ers,” or words to that ef­fect, says Dear­est Duck, root­ing for the Moun­tie.

I con­fess, if I was on Noah’s Big Boat and bored to death af­ter nigh on to 40 days adrift, I’d prob’ly be pick­ing at the oakum caulk­ing the seams.

But it’s win­ter in the Ball Room. Some­times it’s snowy. B’ys, don’t be wood­peck­ers. Thank you for read­ing. Be mind­ful in traf­fic.

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