The meek and mild winter we were treated to earlier this year seems to have vanished under a snowbank and, in the past few weeks, us somewhat surprised and bewildered Albertans have been plunged into a winter wonderland of snow, ice and freezing temperatures.
“What’s up with that?” we question, as our driveways get buried under a mountain of snow and we begin to dread pretty much anything that starts with the word snow.
I, for one, an Alberta girl, born and raised, should know better than to moan and groan and complain about ‘the weather.’ And, I like everyone else who is part of the older generation remember lots of chilling horror tales of the cold winters I was subjected to as a child.
I remember walking to school uphill both ways and it was very cold. I always lagged about three telephone poles behind my big brother who used to turn and look at me with an expression somewhat akin to disgust as I trudged along slowly.
“Hurry up or you’ll freeze,” he would yell, his words hanging in the air like so many snowflakes stuck in a game of frozen tag.
So I hurried up and, obviously I didn’t freeze or I wouldn’t be here, in front of this computer, writing about it.
And I remember other cold tales, all of which took place in the same cold place.
Alberta — the home of the wild rose, which somehow vanishes under all the snow that falls relentlessly in this province for several months, and then shows up, all perfect, fragile and pink around June.
It’s amazing, actually!
Anyway, in the days of my childhood I think winter was definitely colder and longer than it is now with many short black and white days, broken only with more of the same.
Scraping away the ice and snow from the lens of memories in my head, I see winters of the past stretched out in an endless profusion of pristine white fields and silent, drifting snowflakes.
It seemed like we walked everywhere then, and it was always cold, so cold you could see your breath, though why would you want to because it was cold, too cold to stop and check out such foolish things.
In those days we skated lots, because, after all, what else was there to do?
There was no cellphones, or other such communication devices that cause people to only exercise their lips and fingers and zone out of wherever they happen to be.
And, in those long ago days, when winter lasted more than a heartbeat and a snowstorm, many homes, such as my own, boasted no television set.
So, when winter drew its huge X on several calendar pages and moved in to stay, it seemed we went to three places, only.
School. The skating rink and church.
They are all gone now, existing, of course, only in my memory where such things as old wooden churches, school houses and outdoor rinks live on and on forever.
Anyway, in my mind’s eye I see the snow banks piled higher than the boards around that old rink.
I feel the way my toes burned fire after I took my skates off and how I tried, usually unsuccessfully, to crowd my way in around the warmth of that old stove in the skating shack.
And I can hear the hiss of steam as we skaters held our frozen socks and mittens up to its fiery sides.
But, even though it was long ago, though not so far away, I remember the icy feel of winter and the way it seemed to last forever.
I remember it well.
And, truly, I know one thing for sure.
If I could go back there, to the simple black and white winters of my childhood, for just one minute.
Treena Mielke is the editor of the Rimbey Review.