My experience in Dawson says that we generally get our first snow before Thanksgiving. But there are exceptions.
One memorable year we had snow early in September and the leaves froze on the trees before they could change colour and fall off. We spent the winter listening to them rattle in the breeze and wondering what would happen in the spring, but the new buds just pushed the old foliage away. It was odd to be raking greenish leaves in May.
Our first snow is the moist kind that allows for snowball fights, snow forts and snowmen, but it tends to melt away in about a week, under the glare of our declining autumn sun.
Sometimes those first snowmen linger all through the rest of the winter, repeatedly dusted by the dry, powdery stuff that arrives with the second snow dump and characterizes the bulk of our winter.
This stuff is so light that, if you can get to it before it has been stepped on too many times, or packed by the breeze, a broom is more effective than a shovel for getting it off your front walk. In fact, the outfit that cleans off most of the boardwalks in town uses a snow sweeper rather than a snow blower most of the time.
This year the snow came, and came, and came for days on end, and didn’t melt under our overcast skies.
There was so much powder that when the sun did reappear to melt the snow, some of the downtown buildings, for example, the General Store and Downtown Hotel, had to put up barrier-tape along the boardwalks to keep people from getting hit by the falling snow.
That’s a common sight in March and April, not at this end of the year.
We’ve already had to get the roof shoveled off at Berton House. When there’s a big dump and then a freeze/thaw the shed-roof— on Frank Berton’s addition to the original building— leaks, with ice forcing its way between the seams and through the screw holes of the metal roof. Usually it comes through the light fixture in the bedroom (over the bed), but this time it leaked in the bathroom. There’s never a lot of it, according to our various writers-in-residence, but it drips, and that can get annoying.
The sudden amount of snowfall this year caught us by surprise and we had to drive without snow tires for the first week of it. But there are advantages to our winter streets. As long as the ploughs keep the streets clear and level, the hard packed snow fills in the potholes and the streets are actually smoother than they are for much of the summer.