Sunday, April 15, 2007

M - Signs of Spring

I clearly remember autumn in Calgary. It lasted all of two weeks in October, then winter hit hard and has been with us ever since - or is it? Increasingly we have been seeing spring like symptoms:

- The Geese are back, and can be seen everywhere on the ponds and lakes which are...
- Melting. The ice climbing is becoming increasingly sparse and many routes are gone completely. The once blue plastic ice is now something closer to hard...
- Snow. It still falls every now and then, but it is heavy and wet and tends to disappear fairly quickly, sometimes not even lasting past that same...
- Afternoon. I get to see them now because it is still sunny when I get home from work. The change in the length of the day seems to be exaggerated being so far north. The growing length of daylight is very obvious as it changes so rapidly from day to day.

And now the ultimate proof of spring - the City Roads people are going to sweep up all the gravel. The roads are covered in fine gravel, traditionally this is used rather than salt in Alberta to provide traction in the snow, they call it 'Sanding'. These days they put salt in with the gravel, but it only begins to work once the temperature rises above -15 or so. It can stay below that for weeks at a time such as during November when we didn't get above -20 for two weeks. It can however be bright and sunny, causing a small amount of melting on the road surface which then refreezes at night. Thus the roads quickly become skating rinks, hence the need for the gravel. This sanding is also the primary reason every vehicle in Calgary has a cracked windscreen. That and no one has mud flaps, the snow collects on them until it jams the wheel or rips the mudguard off.

Having the gravel removed is particularly relevant to us, making motorcycle riding a safer proposition, as well as the confirmed official belief that spring is certainly upon us.

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