New Maryland — Guarding her front yard, Gail Whalley’s dark grey snowbank still stands along the highway in the June sunlight, chiselled by months of slush spray from passing semi-trucks.
Whalley, 66, took The Manatee along for a tour of the peculiar bank, waiving the usual $20 “up close and personal” fee.
“Some people gotta wake up to frost, I’ve got this,” she said, stumbling across her lawn.
The grass becomes yellow and withered the closer it gets to the snowbank, up until it becomes ash at the bank’s base.
“All the other, uh, snow around it started gettin’ low pretty quick with the warm weather. ‘Bout till two weeks ago this was the only peak still standing, you know.”
Standing near the “York County Uluru,” you immediately feel small vibrations and a light, monotone hum. The metallic coating is littered with plastic Sobeys and Walmart bags, while every passing breeze blows a mixture of ice-melting salt and sand off the bank’s top.
“Thing really glows in the dark — I’ve got curtains covering sheets covering curtains over my windows. The glare’s even brighter than the Irving sign down the way,” explained Whalley. “I’m telling ya, it really comes alive at night, some people have been calling it scarier than the ‘Haunted Hike’ downtown.”
Making calculations in his head in front of the bank stood Lems McFee, 58, a custodian at the Maritime College of Forest Technology — and expert on shitty snowbanks.
“Spent the last two decades tunnelling through ‘em banks,” said McFee. “Gimme-er compass in dead o’ winter I can worm-er up to Nigadoo.”
In one motion he whipped out a machete from his extension cord belt, and slid it through the bank. A thin slice fell sideways, revealing compacted trash on the inside.
“Yep, I seen ‘em all, and I seen no real snow in this bank,” concluded McFee.
“This ‘un started back early November. Look-it the sweets,” he mumbled, pulling out faded Halloween candy wrappers. “No-one’s ‘bin round since.”
Because the mutant bank contains no crystallized ice particles, it isn’t expected to shrink…ever. Contrary to spring tradition, the upcoming heat is expected to bake the filthy bank instead of melting it.
Eyeing a large chunk of road salt on the summit, Whalley pulled out a protruding Tim Hortons cup from the bank and started chipping away.
“Most places have the processed salt that doesn’t meet my strict dietary needs. Also, the random specs of trash and dogshit really give it a kick that President’s Choice forgets,” said Whalley, rattling the pieces in the Timmies cup. “I’ve thought about canning the stuff mysel—”
At that moment, two humourless-looking men in black suits and sunglasses slowly drove passed, making intense eye-contact with Whalley.
“Those pencil-necks have been driving up the highway all week. I see the helicopters — no government suit is getting their hands on my magic snowbank on my PRIVATE land. I’ll turn this place into a suburban Ruby Ridge,” she said.