Andrea Macko, Dishing It Out
When the police write up car accidents, they never call them accidents, but rather “collisions.” Very rarely do collisions happen by accident, any officer will tell you: one of the parties involved always does something wrong to instigate the collision.
Even though it’s almost March, it seems like our winter driving season only started with the New Year. And while many of us have made in through the past few months unscathed, all it takes is a minor lapse in judgment for the worst to happen on the road, especially if weather conditions are less than perfect.
There are a myriad of tips and tricks to improve your winter driving skills. The best one is to stay put if you don’t absolutely have to head out. But this is easier said than done: such was my case last Friday when I had to go to London during that somewhat surprise snowfall. While the roads weren’t ideal, the visibility was non-existent (and I had forgotten my sunglasses, which I find lessen the snow blindness that ensued).
When you can barely see, you have to depend on the world around you to guide you. Tire tracks were helpful, but the few motorists who actually had their lights on were the greatest help of all. I was surprised by how many drivers didn’t, including commercial drivers. I had a safe drive that day, but I saw many cars in the ditch, and witnessed a few close calls. When I got home (and my white knuckles unclenched) I uncharacteristically vented on Facebook about those drivers in the dark.
I was pretty pleased by how many people “liked” my little rant. The list included an EMS staff member and an OPP officer, so I feel my self-righteousness is well warranted! As it turns out, having your lights on during times of poor visibility isn’t just a courtesy, as I had always believed — it’s actually the law. Whenever you can’t see more than 150 metres in front of you (roughly a block-and-a-half of downtown St. Marys), you have to flip the switch.
It’s one of those laws that really makes sense, and considers mankind’s greater good. Having your lights on during a snowy — or foggy, for that matter — day doesn’t help you see, but it sure helps other drivers know where you are, and provides a general lay of the land for everyone on the road. On a snow-covered road, you may think you’re safely on your side, until you see oncoming headlights. You also may think you have the run of your lane, until red taillights come into view.
Many drivers are lulled into a false sense of security by daytime running lights, but they cover half the problem, for your rear end remains unlit. Automated darkness-sensing lights may not serve one well on a bright, snow-blinding day, either. In contemporary cars, with all their automated features, manually switching your lights on may seem like an overbearing effort, but it’s one worth doing.
But it’s almost March, you sigh, isn’t winter just about over? I hope spring is coming soon as much as the next person, but we all know that snow can rear its ugly white head at any moment until mid-May. If you start now, hopefully it will be a habit by next winter.
Don’t remind us, you sigh again, it’s still winter. Here’s a vegetarian stew to soothe your winter-beaten souls. If you’re feeling heavy from hibernating, it’s full of fibre to help get you moving.
Chickpea Stew with Basil Pesto
(From the Toronto Star)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 large sweet onion, halved, thinly sliced
4 stalks celery, chopped
5 sprigs oregano or thyme
3 tbsp. tomato paste
6 cups vegetable broth
Two 19-oz. (540 mL) cans chickpeas, drained, rinsed
3 thick slices stale bread, crusts removed, torn into small pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Purchased basil pesto to taste
In large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add oregano or thyme and tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly for one minute. Add broth. Raise heat to high. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer for five minutes. Add chickpeas and bread. Simmer until thickened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Discard oregano or thyme stalks. Season with pepper. Serve each portion topped with dollop of pesto to taste. Makes four large servings