November 6, 2013

Canadian Winter Blessings

Normally, I wouldn’t be celebrating the arrival of winter, especially at the beginning of November.  Typically, I’d go into winter grumbling and complaining.  Actually, I was complaining about it the other day, but that isn’t what this particular post is about.

This morning (November 5) was one of those glorious winter mornings that has everything that makes me love winter, love our great northern country and love being a Canadian (born and raised).  Every sense was enhanced, augmented and became more finely tuned.  The snow covering the ground, the trees and the roofs of the houses was crisp, clean and pristine (mostly).  The air was totally still, without any wind to disturb the frost on the trees.  It was absolutely breathtaking (literally, actually, since it was cold enough to freeze the lungs a little bit).  Everything was motionless, with even sound seeming to hang in the air, making each movement distinct, unique and noteworthy.  There was that pale glow in the air, ranging from almost white, through to pale yellow to blush pink.  The trees and houses weren’t entirely silhouetted and shadowed, but stood out in that strange way, with depth that only comes in this sort of half-light.

The snow was piled deeply on the branches of the trees and shrubs, in some cases bending them down to create a unique shape, different from the customary ones.  Icicles hung from the houses and waves of snow twisted and turned and cascaded from the eaves in big waves.  Frost crystals glistened as the sun rose, sparkling in the light.  Tufts and puffs of steam and exhaust rose from the chimneys, the vehicles and from people breathing as they walked (ok, that was just me, but I did see one or two other folk out and about).

The snow crackled and squeaked as you walked.  Ice sounded hollow underneath.  All of your clothing feels brittle and stiff, like somehow it might just crack if moved too suddenly.  Any flash of movement is noticeable, whether from a little Black-capped Chickadee flitting from branch to branch collecting seeds from the pine cones, a bluejay flying tree to tree in the distance or a snowflake falling past your head.

Gone are the myriad of blended autumn shades and colours.  Now, shades of grey, brown and black contrast sharply against the whites and silvers of the snow and ice.  Some colours are muted, such as the bright blue-green of the Colorado blue spruce, becoming a dull, but beautiful, dark aquamarine, or the grey-brown patterns of the bark of the Elms jumping with a splash of white.  Other colours become more vibrant, such as the bright clusters of red berries of the Mountain Ash against the tufts of white snow dusted across them or the yellow-orange of leaves exposed by shovelling.

This is the type of weather where you think that you might be able to see forever into the distance.  You appreciate the warmth of the indoors, the crackle of the fire and the feel of a fresh, clean wool scarf across your face.  This is when you think, “Yeah, I’d go tobogganing or sledding” instead of sitting down at the table.  Hot chocolate takes on a flavour and texture that is beyond comprehension.

Today is a day to celebrate winter and the beauty that it brings.  Be grateful for the hardy heritage that Canadians are known for, which makes this sharp transition from fall to winter tolerable.

When the depths of winter settle in, the days get shorter, or when the cold just seems beyond bearing, remember TODAY.   Enjoy the unique beauty of the Canadian winter.

And, for my Jamaican neighbours, that are quite likely hunkered down and wondering why they came to Canada, be patient.  You’ll get used to it.  Eventually.

1 comment:

  1. John Spencer6/11/13 7:31 AM

    Pure poetry! Makes me want to go out and breathe the air.