I will always have a great admiration for all my fellow Albertans, a truly hardy bunch all of whom no matter what Mother Nature may send our way have always somehow managed to adjust to all seasons, as well as being happy, at least most of the time. While the bears shuffle off into the wilderness and hibernate and the Snowbirds head south with the geese the rest of us will now begin to hunker down and bravely prepare for the onslaught of yet another winter.
At this time of the year, we may be blessed with a magnificent fall scene on one day, and then be blasted with a mushy pre-winter storm the next. As hardy Albertans, we will dig in or dig out and find it no big deal to have to shovel snow in the morning, but then still might be able to keep our tee time in the afternoon or to have to scrape the frost off our vehicles before heading for work in the a.m., and then by some sort of a miracle, be able to roll down those windows, and might even venture out for a bike ride or a stroll before the sun goes down.
While we ponder as to when we should rush down to the shop to get our vehicles winterized or start to transform our garages into the winter-mode, we can only hope that some Indian summer magic will still stick around for a little while so that everyone can get the crops in the bin, dig the spuds, and even get in one more game of golf, tennis or whatever? While some brave souls can still be seen rushing around in shorts and tee-shirts, most parents have already begun to rearrange their closets and dresser drawers to include: parkas, fluffy boots, gloves, tukes, long-johns, wool socks, sweaters, socks and whatever other quick changeover is needed when Old Man Winter does arrive.
Of course, the kids may grumble just a little when they have to dress in three layers, but will quickly realize with a little coaxing that they won’t be allowed outside to roll in the snow, play road hockey, skate on the rink or slide down the biggest hills unless they are dressed for the occasion. Don’t worry about the red cheeks and runny noses and the frosty hair, because that is just the traditional healthy and vigorous signs of winter, and will always be rewarded by a steaming cup of hot chocolate and a plate of mom’s freshly baked cookies. As is always the case, we know that winter is just around the corner, but there is no doubt that we will adjust, because we always do, so no matter what the age old Farmer’s Almanac or your favourite weather prognosticators might predict, just go ahead and have fun, with a plan ‘B’ to stay warm. So, with the annual ho-hum approach of winter, has it changed very much over the years for all of our generations young and old? After spending 65 or so years trying to get used to our exciting but totally unpredictable prairie winters, I would love to share a few often chilly but happy memories of growing up in and around Ponoka.
● My dear mother was always a firm believer that if we wore two pairs of socks and mitts over our gloves, we would be warmer and be able to stay out longer on the coldest days. So many of you I know will remember our winter morning breakfasts before being packed up and sent out the door to catch the school bus. Hot porridge with milk and brown sugar, so thick that you could stand a spoon up or dunk your toast in it, but it kept your tummy warm. At school, we had to hang all our winter clothes neatly on a hanger in the coat room, but rushed to put them back on for recess, during which everyone dashed out to the playground, unless you were sick.
● Winter always meant more inside games, helping our dads shovel snow, and on the weekends, venturing over to the community golf course with our sleighs and toboggans’ to slide down those big hills and get a few bum-bruises trying to jump over the ramps that the big kids had made. At night we had to go to bed when it got dark, which was pretty early, but we did get to stay up for special occasions such as Halloween and Christmas Eve. Remember those big warm and woolly quilts we had on our beds, which I really loved, even though I had to sleep with my little brother and the cat.
● The real winter treats were building snow forts and organizing a friendly snow-ball war with the neighbourhood kids, which featured the boys as the soldiers and the girls as the best targets. We also got to skate or play hockey on the river, and occasionally got a ride in the family car to go visiting, shopping, going to a hockey game, a show or a concert, or to head out in the bush together in December to cut down the world’s biggest and best Christmas tree.
● Just like today, our winter adventures would change a whole lot when we became rowdy teenagers and ambitious parents, but that’s another story which I hope to relate later, because I have just about run out of space today. This week, it is my sincere wish that we will all be able to gather with our families and friends on Monday, Oct. 13 to enjoy the traditional feast, but also to give thanks for all that we have been blessed with over the past year. Have a great week, all of you.