Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cold and Warmth

It's -36. And truth be told, there is something unifying in weather this cold. On leaving a cozy bed in a nice, warm house this morning, to drive in a moderately warm vehicle, it is immediately apparent that the world slows in weather like this. The boys are quieter in the car on the way to school, chins tucked into scarves and collars, eyes downward and arms folded. The roads are  like winding ice rinks and when I comment on this to my youngest, he tells me to avoid body checking anyone.

The city is covered in clouds. Not cumulus or nimbus, but clouds from simple things like water running under the city that is fighting the force of the cold that would render it immobile, frozen and still. The clouds of its exertion puff out of sewer grates and seemingly random piles of snow. Breath, coffee steam, dryer vents and car exhaust all conspire to fill the city with fog as if to insulate us.

I hate being cold but there is something I love about this type of cold. It's what makes us soak up the heat of summer with such abandon. It makes us scoff at Californian complaints of coolish weather that becomes lead story material on the southern news channels.  It forges a comraderie amongst our city dwellers that this morning, led a man named Ashad, to fill up my tank with gas while he filled his own vehicle, simply to save two of us from standing in the cold watching the litres tick by. It forces me to be mindful that not everyone has a warm home to retreat to and when I head up to our office and encounter a homeless man sleeping on the couch in our hallway, I tiptoe by as not to wake him, knowing sleeping in a warm hallway is such luxury. It rings in the story of  my friend, a firefighter who resucitated a homeless man yesterday in the street where he lay and got him into an ambulance and out of the cold.

Many would say that this type of weather is what makes us a hearty people. It forges character. I hope that is true. It forces us to be kinder, gentler…with ourselves and others. It makes us more congenial when we commiserate even as we get more and more tired of the length and depth of this winter. Then the sun comes out, over the city, without warmth but with light and colour and the basic sustenance we need to get through another day with hope. Then I am passed on the rink/roadway by a snow covered convertible and I am reminded that we live with hope - that one day the sun will come and bring with it warmth to accompany the light and the colour. And that snow covered convertible will have the roof down and we'll forget that days like this really exist. I do hope we hang on to the character and kindness though.
The South Saskatchewan River letting off steam in -36 weather

The beautiful Bessborough, as if this composed lady on the riverbank would ever blow her stack

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Learn to like what doesn't cost much.
Learn to like reading, conversation, music. 
Learn to like plain food, plain service, plain cooking.
Learn to like fields, trees, brooks, hiking, rowing, climbing hills.
Learn to like people even though some of them may be different...Different from you.
Learn to like work and the satisfaction of doing your job as well as it can be done.
Learn to like the song of birds, the companionship of dogs.
Learn to like gardening, puttering around the house, and fixing things.
Learn to like the sunrise and sunset, the beating of rain on the roof and windows, and the gentle fall of snow on a 
winter day.
Learn to keep your wants simple and refuse to be controlled by the likes and dislikes of others."

Lowell C. Bennion

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cactus Huggers

I saw this clip this morning and it was a great way to start the day. In light of all the things that are wrong about Hollywood, fame and the ability of media to grab onto a sound bite and beat it to death, comes to light a video that sheds the shallowness, epitomizes friendship and shows that even those (or maybe especially those...) in the limelight need someone to walk through the valleys with them.

I haven't been much of a cactus hugger in my life. Often I avoid those prickly little areas in my life that are dark and try to leave them to die alone. Unfortunately, as cacti do, even untended and in harsh conditions, they tend to thrive and grow all on their own. So, here's to hugging the cactus. Friendship. Forgiveness. Grace. Enjoy. Embrace. Emulate.

Robert Downey Jr. and Mel Gibson

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Year's Traditions

Each year we spend our New Year's with Jason's family out at Rock Lake. It's a beautiful little lake tucked into the valley between two hills that provides a lovely, sheltered place to play in even the coldest weather. This year, we had no such issues. The weather was perfect - cold enough to keep everything frozen and stable but warm enough that for the first year in our five year history, we were able to play our shinny games in just fleeces and shells. It was amazing. 
Kim and I pulled out the cross country skis and took out on the lake. My second attempt at cross country skiing only mildly more successful than my first. Interestingly, well, maybe only to first attempt was also with Kim. We attempted a lesson from Uncle Oscar out on his Orangeville, ON property and he promptly left us in his wake, giggling and falling with no measurable distance being covered. This attempt at least, I was able to figure out a little more gliding though there was just as much giggling on my part. It's not that cross country skiing is actually fun...I was just giggling at the fact that I was so incompetent and rhythmically challenged on skis. Kim was gracious enough to stay far enough ahead of me to be just out of earshot of my gasps and whoops as I fell over again and again. I may be the only person who has ever incurred an injury on flat surface skiing. I impaled my collarbone with my ski pole. Seriously, who does that? But, all in was a great way to spend time out on the lake. I'm always amazed that in winter, there really are so many options to spend time outside, enjoying the weather and the beauty around us. One of my favorite pastimes at the cottage is just to head out walking with Charlie and my camera. I've started just taking it with me because the few times I haven't, have been the times that deer or raccoons cavort in front of me singing show tunes ala Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Of course, you don't believe me and I have no photographic evidence. So, Charlie and I believe and one day will capture it with the camera. Until then, I leave you with just a few photos proving that while the Canadian prairies in mid winter are not always the most hospitable places to spend time in the outdoors, the rare moments and glimpses of beauty make it worth your while and keep you hopeful.

Husband and son...same does this happen?

A little tradition of shinny on the lake with the cousins.

A pair of Sorel's provide the second "net"

Winter sun

Puck hog

Winter nest

Literal Rabbit Trail