Reflections on a winter’s day, with a snow shovel in hand

I was in the backyard on Sunday, digging snow — a lot of snow. I wasn’t clearing a path to the back lane garbage area. I did that the week before. I was digging, and digging, for something special — Christmas.

I was in the backyard on Sunday, digging snow — a lot of snow.

I wasn’t clearing a path to the back lane garbage area. I did that the week before. I was digging, and digging, for something special — Christmas.

My yard, like everyone else’s in Central Alberta, is so full of the white stuff that soon we will have to rise up on ladders to throw snow over the newly-formed mountain ranges that have gathered along driveways and sidewalks.

It’s times like this that I wish God had made me just a few inches taller. But my older brother, and all my nephews except for one that is still growing, got dibs on height. None of them are under 1.8288 metres (six feet) tall. I wish they would all move to Red Deer.

I had started Sunday in the front of the house, in the driveway. The snowfalls, and subsequent freezing and melting had led to a build-up on the driveway. So with big ice scraper, shovel and broom in hand, I got things up to snuff after about an hour of not too intensive labour.

It was one of those days when just being outside in the sun and cold was quite enjoyable.

The reason a clean driveway matters so much right now is because my 81-year-old mother will soon be arriving for Christmas. I don’t want any slips and falls.

That reminds me. I am so thankful for the Lending Cupboard in Red Deer. The non-profit lends out at no cost (although they happily accept donations) medical equipment, like the walker I’ve borrowed for Mom during her visit.

So job done at the front of the house, it was time to move to the backyard.

The winds had really done a number on the back. There were large drifts in the yard, and against the fence, that I know I haven’t seen the likes of for eons. Anyone who’s ever had an old dog, or a short dog, will understand why I was digging through these huge drifts.

We don’t have dogs anymore but we do have canine family members who bring along their human counterparts at Christmas. This year we’re having a very small gathering compared with previous years, and only one dog. Even though she’s tall enough — a standard poodle — she’s getting on in years. Having her break trails through the heavy snow to do her business is a little much for her. Hence the snow-clearing in the backyard. Yes, I know, I am hostess extraordinaire.

As I worked away in the backyard, the idea of building a snow fort suddenly occurred to me. I seriously considered it. I felt and remembered being a kid in the winter, bundled in bulky leggings and coat, tuque and mittens, and a delightful giant mound of snow waiting to be transformed into an icy, but cozy, cavern.

It was the first time I’ve ever truly thought: Wouldn’t it be fun to have a couple of grandchildren.

Anyway, the snow work was a job well done, except for the fact that in the evening a new system moved in and guess what, two more days of snowfall were on their way.

Now, the Christmas preparations are mostly done — but maybe not all the digging. Oh well. I actually like to shovel snow. It’s in the genes. After all, I am Canadian. For this, and for many, many other things, I am truly thankful.

Merry Christmas. Season’s greetings.

Mary-Ann Barr is Advocate assistant city editor; barr@bprda.wpengine.com or 403-314-4332

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