Saturday, May 26, 2007

Last Snowstorm of the Year

I apologize if anyone was really upset that I didn't update this blog yesterday, but I can't feel too bad about being one day late on a purely volunteer endeavour I'm doing basically to see what it's like. Unlike Wednesday, where I was in and just forgot/didn't get to it, I spent pretty much all of Friday out. I was out late dancing on Thursday, woke up in time to start hanging out with friends and stayed out all day. I actually spent some hours just hanging out outside, which is rare for me in the summer months as I am a person who hates heat and the sun. But yesterday was perfect, the kind of day that makes me wish we had weather like it year round, and sitting in the shade actually made me glad to be outside, something I normally only feel in autumn and overcast spring days.

I live in a weird area of Canada, you understand. No matter how hot or cold it gets, I know people in Canada or the States who live somewhere where it's more extreme - but I don't know many peopl who live somewhere that hits +40 and -35 degrees in a year (for those of you still stuck with fahrenheit, that's a range from 104 to -31). Our winters can get pretty bad, but I prefer being cold to hot, as you can always put on more clothes and/or do something active. But our summers are just brutal. Luckily the really bad heat only tends to last a few weeks or a month, but still. One summer I happened to work in a steel factory that was reliably ten degrees hotter than outside, and you really haven't lived until you've worked in fifty degree heat while wearing a thick coverall work suit. Ugh.

So the point is, I hate certain things about summer, despite it being vacation time when I was a kid, when I can go swimming (which I love) and despite containing my birthday. But I also understand the traditional Ontarion desire to get winter over with; it's not exactly a bundle of laughs. We have a really weird love/hate relationship with winter, as well as having a good deal of our indentity bound up in it. We make fun of you when you get two inches of snow and your cities shut down. We walk around with coats on when it's fifteen below because it's "not really cold yet." Low are from Minnesota. They understand. They know that despite winter sucking, like anything else you grow up with you kind of wind up loving it; it's odd to have Stockholm Syndrome for a whole season, but that's basically what happens. And thus,

The winter was nice
But the summer is hell

The ground was so hard
The nights were so long
But we suffered the dark
And we wrote all those songs
Still I was a fool
I covered my ears
No I would not face the last snowstorm of the year

The first verse talks a bit about something more abstract (and I'm not sure whether it has any sort of connection to either religion or winter), but the second verse and end of the song are pretty straightforward. Winter isn't great, but you wind up holed wup inside with loved ones, and you get a lot done. By the end of it, you don't want it to end (also, you're not sure it ever actually will end - this happens to me with both summer and winter).

I love "Last Snowstorm of the Year" for multiple reasons: because, like Sloan's "Coax Me" it's one of my most quoted songs ("It's not the band I hate, it's their fans"), because of the slightly mysterious aspect of the lyrics - the first verse and the way it talks about wanting to die when you're young, the childish abnegation of covering your ears to avoid a snowstorm, because it's one of the songs on Trust that is short and poppy and kind of Phil Spector-ish in order to offset the incredibly dark portions of that record (having it set up "John Prine" is an interesting choice in and of itself), because of the way Mimi mostly sings along but sometimes just goes wordless to provide counterpoint, because it's one of th few Low songs I think could make for a rousing chorus around the campfire, and for the way then when I've been listening to it on repeat I realise that it begins and ends on the same sound, a weird descending/ending piano(?) chord that makes sense as an end but is an odd little fillip for a beginning, until it's looped.

But mostly I love "Last Snowstorm of the Year" because it's the only song I know that explicitly prefers winter to summer, and although it's gorgeous now, in the back of my head I'm bracing for the time of year when I don't want to move away from my fan and the thought of standing in the sun is vaguely terrifying (I burn easily). Alan and I may cover our ears, but the song itself admits that we're fools - we can't stop the seasons turning, and winter will come back around anyways. Until then, we smack sleighbells and rue the heat.

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