Each day, the busyness of our home is lulled to sleep by shadows of the evening, and soon our calendars are quietly flipping months. It seemed like the delights of Jack Frost leaped on my back and I somehow didn't seem him sneaking up.
It's closing in on three decades that I've been tromping around on this planet, and you would think I would be used to Old Man Winter by now, but I still feel a little like sticking my tongue out at him as he sweeps by. It's the time of year the goobers in your nose seem to freeze your nostrils together and I feel like I need to pull out some kind of manual about surviving the cold in this bleached land. Alas, no manual is needed, a few short hours in the cold and it all comes back to me.
A brisk walk outside, complete with your lungs smarting and I'm reminded I ain't no Alberta tough, I'm just Alberta crazy. The fifteen minutes, (per child that is) to get everyone ready to head out the door is already making my thinker a little more coo coo than the usual. I understand the grain farmers' who head to Arizona for the winter, my only question is, will you haul me along?
November creeps in and I'm banging the thermometer on my knee, thinking it must be plumb worn out because that little line just keeps dropping lower and lower. Broken thermometer's, bad roads, and piles of snow clothes laying in the back porch is a clear reminder that the winter months are glaring in my face. Farm wife muscles were recently flexed as neighbouring momma strapped her blonde beauties in the back of the car and fired up the old John Deere tractor to plough the lane before roaring into their dance classes in town. Her husband shook his head and reminded her that if she needed to move snow before running into town, it might be a good day to stay home. Icy wind and piles of snow haven't proven themselves powerful enough to keep any woman inside long out here on the prairies, but a husband who holds the keys to the tractor might be.
I guess we're lucky here in Alberta, what is the need for Botox* and all those other ways to look younger? Our faces simply freeze in place and our cheeks are nice and rosy preventing any need for blusher. Be wary not to make any rude faces or have a look of shock on that mug when you walk outside-that is what might be preserved forever (or at least until Summer!)
Lumbering out the back door in Muck boots I'm realizing the amount of snow which seems to be accumulating around this homestead. Chores with babies, sleds, and snow gear and I'm starting to feel like Winter is a bit like running some kind of race- that I seem to be getting lapped in. Cursing the animals that need to be fed, I feel envious of my daughter's fleece pajamas with the feet included and am starting to think about looking for a pattern for myself.
In our younger years, we all remember being suited up like marshmallows, waiting for the bus in the pitch dark at the end of the lane. The big banged teenage girls weren't allowed on the bus if they didn't have a pair of boots in hand, but they shouldn't have worried, I'm sure Mom packed an extra pair of Sorel's in my backpack-just in case. It is no joke that we live somewhere there have been kids who have come to school on snowmobiles to take their diploma exams. They are infamous and dedicated students, it's too bad they failed, but we knew they couldn't see out of their balaclavas.
It's also a semi dangerous time of year, not for the frost bite or the bad roads, but for our marriages. Running to the back door to greet your husband in a cold Carhartt coat with a kiss can be a hazardous task. Who can tell any of these men from rural Alberta apart, they are bundled up so much? Be warned, before you plant a wet one on the man who appears at the door, make sure it's not a neighbour who has broken down.
As much as the cold, snow, and ice seems to reign down on us like some kind of terrible joke, I know it's something that builds some of the character of these faces that sweep across the grasslands. Flatlanders are rugged, hardy, and able bodied creatures. They are the kind of folks that know what kind of snow holds value in moisture content, they are the ladies that could probably write defensive driving courses and men who know how to skate circles around the boy's from the south. When you are in my shoes this winter and are wanting to give that drift a big old boot, but are afraid of the ice chunks in it, try and remember to embrace that this is the season we are given. It is a gift! Although, I tell you, there is no harm in being grateful from indoors with the stove blazing.