I’ve officially given up. More snow is falling, half of Whitehorse is in the Caribbean or Hawaii and the weather channel is constantly predicting temperatures that continue to hover well below the average mark.
Oh, there’s the odd time when the numbers seem to peak timidly over the line, raising my forlorn hopes, only to reveal their true frigid nature the next morning that, thanks to daylight savings, is again as dark as January.
This causes me to think about turning on my Christmas lights, finally buying a snowblower or cursing the enlightened who had the sense to flee to the Lower Mainland when Yukon was still, allegedly, a semi-arid desert. And then there’s my street which looks like some forbidden, rut-filled no-man’s land, fit only for snowmobiles and the occasional person walking their dog, both on snowshoes.
So yes, I’ve given up. My driveway continues to fill in and I can no longer lift my shovel over the two-metre cliffs that border both sides. Every morning seems to create an adventure: is my truck really under that new pile of white crap, and even when I dig it out, where’s the road? But I digress.
There’s someone in this town who unfailingly attacks each snowfall with vigour and a smile. Have you ever noticed an oasis of calm and sure footing around the Main-Steele Building, a place where you can step off the snowy plateaus that claim to be paths and actually touch solid ground?
Have you noticed a person usually dressed in mid-brown coveralls, armed with a baseball hat and shovel, maintaining his territory with vigilance and verve? That person is Len Atkins.
I’ve often seen him in the early morning or evening pushing the latest gift from nature onto the curb, revealing a clear pattern of summer brickwork that you can strangely appreciate and touch.
Exasperated, I stopped and asked him why he doesn’t just give up like me.
Oh, I know about the city bylaw, and I’ve witnessed the efforts of Bobcats and snow-brush machines carving their way down to some semi-solid layer above a sidewalk – but it seemed a fair question.
He thought for a moment and then told me that it’s just the way he is. That if you’re going to do it, then do it right. It’s as simple as that.
And there’s a lesson for me. Here’s a man who votes with his feet – a person who takes his responsibilities seriously and adding, in my view, immeasurable value to our community. Just ask any pedestrian who risks life and limb on snow and ice. So no matter how much this winter throws at me, all I have to do is think about the person who keeps his portion of ground safe to the step. And that’s no small thing.
So here’s to you, Len. And by the way, as I walked down Third Avenue early this morning, I noticed your handiwork despite another snowfall that just ended last night. More to the point, I noticed it extended around the corner and seemingly all the way down Main Street to the TD Bank.
Normally you stop where the Main-Steele Building merges into other businesses. Did you carry on or did your example simply catch on? Either way, from one citizen to another, thank you for a job well done!
Now, I have this driveway (I know it’s there – I took a picture last summer)Ã‰.