Here today, I looked at the sky and whispered,
“Not here, not now, but then…”
No white is present, the air has a chill,
but nowhere is there snow.
Remarkably though, I remember when…
From summer to autumn and beyond fallen leaves, we had
waited with anticipation for the first snowfall each year.
Sometimes it arrived in time for Halloween…
Sometimes, following the cold snap of November
and almost always, in time for Christmas.
We had always prayed for snow by Christmas Eve –
After all, how would the reindeer land on the roof?
You can imagine our delight Christmas morning when we went
outside to see hoof marks crafted from snow balls thrown atop,
only to bounce down and trick us into thinking that Santa
had actually parked beside the chimney to make his grand entrance.
Ahhh… the snow marked the holidays and it was indeed a treat.
A treat we could eat – for months at a time –
sun splashed, dusted peppermint patties piled up and banked,
sometimes twenty feet high!
In my northern home town – Lord Thundering Bay,
in winter, we welcomed the snow.
It’s taken for granted, as here on the coast,
are the endless ocean miles.
Up there though, the wilderness is defined by dense bush
and bottomless freshwater lakes,
frozen over as winter takes its icy hold.
Quite a contrast from what I have come to know – here and now…
Contrast between; hot and cold, chilly and warm.
Icy water in frigid lakes at zero to freeze.
Or if you remember, as I do,
you’d know that the snow ideally falls minus 32F degrees.
Burning ice versus burning flame.
Both can burn – but they’re hardly the same.
Frozen solid streams – where water trickles beneath the surface
and slowly carves a widening path come spring.
Snow in storms with volume and force,
just as powerful winds build waves on the sea.
The surf swells.
The snow drifts – to bury both you and me…
Deep soft powder and white snow capped peaks delight those
who can see from above, riding chairlifts and gondolas to
mountain tops, just to swoosh down again over smooth wide
runs or to tackle packed moguls that challenge man against nature.
Snow brought excitement – skiing, tubing, sliding and gliding
cross-country over pressed trails – hands clad in gloves
gripping poles for propelling and picking up speed.
Contrasting white frosted pines to branches of green
Blinding snow, blowing from whipping swags and
slapping your face like a snapping rubber band –
leaving dotted and frostbitten, moist, pink-puffy cheeks…
My fondest memories are of tons of snow –
enough to enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride.
Family and friends perched high on stacks of hay,
as we slid over trails cut just for the sleigh.
There were bodies of all shapes and sizes and bundled babes
in colourful layers of synthetic fibres,
goose-down covering our long-johns and, of course,
warm winter boots, toques and scarves… and mittens were a must.
We lasted outside an hour or so – bodies flying off the rear,
tumbling and stumbling knee-deep in snow,
racing to catch up, just in time to be heaved off again…
Sweat formed a stripe of frost on our hairlines
and dripping beads of moisture would soak our undergarments.
These were quickly peeled off and laid upon the wood stove
for warming upon arrival back at the chalet and barn.
We left our footprints trailing the sleigh, mixed with memories
and horse hooves that marked the trail…
And our snow angels spread their wings amongst the soft
white sheet of serenity that covered the farmers fields.
Who was thinking then,
of the contrast to the scad strips of garments
that barely covered the same intimate parts
at another time of year?
Not us northerners!
The snow sometimes stayed for months…
and during this time, as long as we played,
we didn’t dare think about summer!
Stick out your tongue –
catch a snowflake…
Stick out your tongue –
exhale and see the cloudy frost of your icy breath…
Stick out your tongue – if you dare –
and place it gently upon the metal fence post…
And I can guarantee – for if not a fool –
would you stick out your tongue again?
Before the stormy sky turned white,
with thickened clouds that met above – this mist
transformed moisture into big, fat, falling flakes –
until a dusting covered the earth and
accumulated on the ground in a blanket of tranquility.
And then the sun reappeared…
And the snow resembled glistening diamonds,
blinding with a silvery blue hue …
And the shadows danced to our desires to get bundled up,
to go outside again to play…
For we knew we had to go, right then –
because the snow was never there to stay.