My last day in Alberta for a while. I fly out of Calgary tomorrow, just in time to avoid freezing my ass off. Winter’s come early this year I believe. I seem to recall the prairie’s long sun-flooded days and balmy nights stretching to Hallowe’en, Remembrance of winters past arrived with the trick’n’treaters shivering in their little bunny costumes, baby teeth chattering in the cold. Hallowe’en didn’t bring sweets, it dealt out an icy grip from the hair roots to the finger tips and toes, it hammered in the nails, time to shovel driveway and side walk, wrench the frozen gear mechanism into reverse, back out amidst clouds of exhaust steam, trundle down the unploughed side street, make a hopeful run at the snow-banked intersection onto an unrecognisable main drag: two lanes reduced to one, stalled cars, fender-benders or worse. Once I did a ‘doughnut’ on highway 15. Bewildered, disoriented — as I faced slowing oncoming traffic and before I executed my clumsy, shame-faced u-turn — I thanked providence for delivering me once more. A previous winter, a Mill Woods thoroughfare, I’d ‘fishtailed’ so spectacularly on sheet ice that I was featured in the local 6 o’clock news. Not me exactly. My vehicle. The lead car in an eight car pile up.
Last year, my twelve months stint in Edmonton caring for my dying brother, I relied on public transportation As I stood waiting for the number five at 30 below, plus wind chill factor, brrrr –I would have wept had the tears not frozen in my eyes.
This is no country for old people. That’s why 50+ retirees from oil-rich Alberta become snowbirds – enjoying Alberta’s glorious summers; wintering in Florida or Arizona. That’s why I’m off out of here tomorrow. Because I can.