First Snow

The first snow of the season carrying with it the promise of skiing across fields blanketed in white, sunrises flashing and sparkling on snowflakes suspended in the early morning air, snow forts, snow angels, steaming hot cocoa with cookies and Christmas. I love winter for its cold, still mornings before the world awakens. Hallowe’en is the last stop before we begin to imagine winter. And on this Hallowe’en winter is finally in the air.

Farming keeps us pretty busy through three seasons making hay while the sun shines; and this year it seemed to shine every day. In winter, though, a person doesn’t feel guilty sitting by the fire reading or sleeping in a bit later on a Saturday morning or even heading out for a whole day of skiing. The hottest jobs of the summer always seem to fall on the hottest days causing hay or straw to stick to every bit of exposed skin while first you load the wagons then the mows. But with chores all done, winter allows time for play.

When our children were very young we used to hitch up the horse to the old McLaughlin cutter, sleigh bells and all, to ride down snow covered roads. It’s been a long time since we’ve had that depth of snow so the cutter sits unused. Well, though much is lost much remains. We can still ski out across the fields with dogs that love to bound and tussle through snow drifts. The dogs also love snowball tosses. We toss loosely packed snowballs while they jump to catch them. It’s one of their favourite things. With their long coats, rough collies were made for the winter.

Winter abounds with skating parties, skiing parties, and parties just because. All those friends that run frantically throughout the rest of the year finally find the time to get together. While nature sleeps, Canadians party.

Then there’s the maple syrup that comes on the heels of winter’s last gasp. That most beautiful of all sweet treats arrives as a gift from the maple trees awakening for another year. What’s more it provides another excuse for a party.

With so much environmental press and so many sustainability events happening this November I want to take my own shot at this issue that scientists and politicians claim to be so complex. For me it isn’t complex at all. Take your dog and kids walking in the woods or on the trails. Plant a tree. Build a snow fort with your kids. Go skiing or walking or biking or running in the early morning so you can watch the sun rise. Listen to a flock of migrating birds. We protect the things we truly love. If we truly love tax cuts then that’s what we will protect . If we truly love life then that’s what we will protect. And we won’t tolerate those that would destroy it.

Every living thing is fragile, whether it be the loggerhead shrike of the Carden Plain or our own children; and every living thing is connected to every other. That is an inescapable fact of life on this earth. So for me it is simple. All of the living things that make this world richer are the things that I will fight to protect.

Every season has its own fragile beauty. Oddly winter, with its quiet Canadian stillness is the one that many Canadians choose to miss. While we disappear into the landscape of spring, summer and fall, all teeming with colour and activity, winter alone provides the silent backdrop that allows us to see our place in nature more clearly. Few countries are blessed as ours is with four distinct seasons each offering its unique wonder. We need to take the time now and again to play while we can in this ever changing world that nature offers for our pleasure. Children understand better than adults the myriad of opportunities that exist for playing. At the end of the day, how old you live really isn’t as important as how young you live. See you next time.

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