Embrace wonders of winter

I’ve just come through another Atlantic Canada snowstorm.
I’m dug out; found my car and my deck. “Gracie” and I also have recreated our hiking trail somewhat.
The snowblower tractor man has come and gone, and he smiled at me sympathetically as I was on the business end of my snow shovel. I was pretty sure my deck and walk way were under there somewhere—and I was right.
Despite the heavy lifting, “Gracie” and I were in very good spirits. Actually, “Gracie” always is in good spirits. That’s what I like best about her.
It was a beautiful day. Everything was covered in fresh clean snow, the temperature moderate, and the sun trying to find a break in the cloud cover. And before my neighbours could hit the switch on their snowblowers, the world was calm and peaceful and serene.
I found myself looking back (as I am inclined to do) and longing for the days of building snow forts on my beloved Bonnie Brae Farm on the Rainy River.
Winter blew her northeast wind over the fields of our farm, picking up snow that the wind then dumped at the crest of our great tobogganing hills.
After a really good storm, with lots of wind and snow, the hill had quite a drift at its top—perfect into which to dig tunnels and forts and terrific sliding paths. The three of us spent hours out there building, digging, laughing, and snowball fighting.
My dad often joined in, using his naturally-acquired engineering skills to create the most fabulous exhilarating flying saucer runs. I ache for those days, when we didn’t worry about the cold or snow up our sleeves or our throbbing toes.
We played; we played until we couldn’t play one more second. Was it a simpler time or is it nostalgia having its way with me.
We had a snow fence that ran in the field the length of the road on which we were the sole occupants. Wilson Road. And the drifts that gathered around the snow fence were another oasis of winter fun.
I spent the entire day “swimming” in the snow the entire length of our road. That’s right, swimming in the snow—on my belly, up and over and down and through the great drifts.
It was beyond fun. It was wonderful. But after following behind me for several hours, my dog gave up and went home without me. I might have been eight or nine.
I remember that day very clearly, as if I had accomplished a great feat, something that mattered. In hindsight it didn’t, but in that moment. . . .
Winter was an invitation then; not a burden, not an endurance test. Winter invited our imaginations while it exercised our stamina to climb back up the hill for one more run.
Winter was about play while everything else—save the clearing of the roads—was at rest. Winter silenced the weeds in the garden, told the alfalfa to go to sleep.
And after the hay bales and pails of crushed barley were dragged to the feeders for the cows and the young bull calves, and the ice was knocked out of the heated water bowls, and the spreading of straw was done, the farm was quiet and fort-building was the only entry on the to-do list.
So the next time I feel burdened by winter, I shall call on those days, on those memories, and maybe winter and I will rekindle a lasting relationship.
wendistewart@live.ca

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