By Patricia Lightfoot

A classic urban Canadian phenomenon is the rumbling sound and light show of heavy snow-removal equipment after dark. It begins with the signs deposited on the snow banks that line each street, warning that snow removal will take place between the posted hours. Early that evening, a pick-up truck goes up and down the streets with flashing lights and sirens to encourage laggards to move their cars. Sometimes, thoughtful city workers will bang on people’s doors to say, “Is that your car? Do you know whose it is?” This means that your car isn’t towed and you can move it to a street that is not being cleared that night. A few blocks away, you can see the headlights of the waiting trucks, which are the longest I have ever seen. The grader, which looks like a giant prehistoric insect, arranges the snow in a long, high pile, the length of a city block, so the auger can spin it up and shoot it down into the trucks with its Loch Ness monster neck. The sight of the trucks and the auger processing slowly in unison down a dark street illuminated by lights on the vehicles, accompanied by the heavy tank-like rumbling, always makes me happy to live in a peaceful, though chilly, country.