car trials

So, Montreal has been experiencing temperatures well below negative twenty – as low as negative forty with windchill – and when the weather stays cold, the snow just ACCUMULATES. Piles and piles of it. Hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of frozen precipitation being compacted by a million booted footsteps, churned by a million winter tires, and pushed from side to side by plows that seem increasingly ineffective as you realize that there is no longer anywhere for the snow to go. When I first dug out my car from its arctic tomb in December, I realized that I didn’t know what to do with the shovelfuls of snow I was excavating: onto the road, where it would impede traffic? The sidewalk, where pedestrians would give me dirty looks? The cars parked in front of and behind me, whose owners would then have to move my snow, in turn, to get their own vehicles out? WHERE TO PUT THE SNOW?!?!?

As it turns out, the snow is simply removed from the streets by this delightful machine, a new addition to the taxonomy of trucks in my head:

And this, ultimately, is where it goes:

Montreal Snow Dump - Montreal Gazette / Vincent D'Alto

Montreal Snow Dump – Montreal Gazette / Vincent D’Alto



Yesterday I went to check on my car and observed the fluorescent orange temporary no-parking signs which indicate when you will have to move your car to make way for the magical snow-removal machine. Digging out my car this time was much more of a mission than before: like an archaeological dig, the layers of snow revealed the weather that had been. First, on the streetwards side of the car, a clear 2-5 mm layer of ice coating the windows and doors. On the body of the car, several inches of fluffy snow that had fallen in the past couple of days – the kind of snow that hasn’t even come close to melting in its lifetime, slippery and almost squeaky, like styrofoam or aspertame. Below that, an inch of ice from the day of freezing rain that I broke off in jagged sheets and tossed to the ground. The pieces hit the sidewalk and shattered with a fragile sound like breaking lightbulbs. Below that, another layer of snow, and then a thin, frosty ice on the body of the car itself.

I swept all of it off and then chipped at the ice surrounding the tires and the ugly conglomerate of ice, snow and gravel that was shored up against the street side of the car. It took me an hour to clear it. Then I spun the tires. I chipped the ice again. I snugged my snow chains up against the tires in hopes that they would provide some traction. Spun the tires. Looked worriedly at the car in front of me, a red mini with three people chipping and pushing and revving and getting absolutely nowhere. Eventually I went back to the loft and recruited a friend to help me, and when we’d pushed my noble steed out of her prison, there were sparkling smooth wells of ice where the wheels had been.

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