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weather or not

Back from London in time for a bit of weather. I guess you always have weather, the same way you always have a temperature, but you only talk about them when they're bad. For those of you not in southern Ontario or the northeast US, we are in the midst of a pretty big winter storm here. A good storm, if you want to make snow angels or drink hot chocolate and admire the view. A bad one if you want to travel anywhere. Value is in the pocket of the assessor, after all. Here are a few different assessments, taken not entirely at random, from members of my family. First my mom, who called me early this morning to make sure I was not still planning to drive into the city. The storm is awful, she said. The wind is howling; our balcony is covered; the main street isn't even plowed yet. The radio is telling everyone to stay home.

I told her I had decided not to drive in.

Really? Because you can be stubborn, Richard, she said.

Can not, I said.

Can too, she said.

Can too, I said, proving her point.

Ed, sleeping nearby, asked what was going on. Nana doesn't want me driving in the snowstorm, I said. He poked his head out of the covers.

Snowstorm? he said, with that little-boy perkiness in his voice. (I'll come back to him.)

Thea looked at the storm and said, I'll drive to Mom's to say hi. I'm not used to driving in snow, and it'll be good practice.

For a hint of a fraction of a second I felt typical silly parental concern: what if something happens? She could end up in a ditch. In an accident. In the hospital. In the morgue. It was a visceral reaction: I reminded myself of my mom.

Okay, I said, but be careful.

She withered me with a look. I blushed. I wonder if my mom had blushed earlier.

Finally Ed, who needed a textbook he'd left in the car to finish his homework. (Thea had returned by then, having avoided the ditch/hospital/morgue nexus.) Look at that snow come down, he said. Does anyone want to dare me to go to the car in bare feet?

I sure do, said Imo.

I smiled and went back to my book. Five minutes later Ed came in limping and swearing. Imo whooped with laughter. I was flummoxed. He'd actually done it. But .... but why? I asked him.

He stared, as if I'd questioned gravity. Because Imo dared me, he said.

Is that how it works? I asked Imo. You dare someone, they have to go?

And now it was her turn to wither me with a look.

Why did you let him do it, Dad? said Thea. That was horrible parenting.

I didn't know, I said. I thought they were kidding.

Horrible parenting.

Was not, I said.

Was so.

Was not.

Only as I sat back, sipped my hot chocolate, and thought of my fourteen year old hopping through waist-deep drifts in bare feet, I began to laugh -- which pretty much proved her point, I guess.

As I write this, the snow is coming down as hard as ever. My inner little boy is thinking, Snow day tomorrow! But I think I'll keep my boots on.


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