Homebodies - About that cold snap…


Rita Friesen
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It is with grace and dignity that I confess that I have slipped into the category of the ‘oldtimers’. More than once the phrases-when I was a child, and I recall the winter of..’ Yup, earned all these memories and I trust the majority of them are still quite accurate. No guarantees but sincere hope! I recall the winter that my father was away, either back to university or teaching, and I was left in charge. That January was bitterly cold, the thermometer not inching past zero degrees Fahrenheit day or night. The morning pattern was stoking the furnace, heading out to do the chores, coming in to eat breakfast and make my school lunch, and heading off to school.

The evening routine allowed me more time to spend with the creatures, sheep and milk cows. Walking into the barns, walking into a cacophony, doling out fodder and filling watering bowls, and then, standing reverently in the ensuing silence. Bliss that resonates with me today. Then, through the dark, accompanied by the farm dog, the sound of our footsteps magnified by the frosty air, back to the bustle of the house, and homework. Cold, a deep penetrating cold, so cold we let the animals out for a few hours on the weekend only. Cold that crept past the hand knit mitts and up your wrists. Cold that seeped past the liners in your boots and numbed your toes. Cold that accented the beauty of the smoke from the chimney and the breath frosting the scarves. Cold that expanded the light of the millions of stars and the luminous moon. Sun dogs by day and Northern Lights at night.

So, we have had another cold snap. Now, most days, the choice of going out or staying in, is my choice. The warmth of my winter apparel exceeds anything I dreamed about when I was a child. My parka covers me to the knees, the fur trimmed hood draws close to my face, my red nose the beacon identifying a person within! The leather gloves are fleece lined, soft and flexible. And the boots! Warm and sturdy and safe for ice. I will admit that there were days when I did not meet my goal of 10,000 steps. There were days when I bundled up, leashed the dogs, and after they limped a block I trundled them back home. No, I have never carried them home, yet, but we have jog trotted back to the safety of our home. Once or twice I shoved them in the door and ventured forth without them. Not for a long walk but long enough.

The weather has always had extremes. I can recall February thunderstorms. Distinctly. My father’s birthday was February 23 and it was the custom for the neighbours to stop by and join in celebrating the occasion. We did that for all the adults in our community. More than once a thunderstorm filled the winter sky with sound and lights. So, it was cold, and will be again.