…the sweep of easy wind and downy flake

Photo by sister Cathy — Bill and Cathy’s place in Sherwood Park, Alberta, early winter 2012

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.

About annewlindsay

I don't go 'first class'. I can't afford to and even if I could I think I would still choose to travel as I do. I think you meet a more interesting class of people if you use local transportation and just take your chances. I'm getting restless again. Hope to meet you on the bus or train.
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3 Responses to …the sweep of easy wind and downy flake

  1. Being from Minn-ah-soh-tah, ya, shore, ya, betcha, you have reminded me of my young days in Halloween costume, well padded. And donuts and fishtails. I remember, when I first learned to drive, with Dad in the car, I did a “donut” on a patch of ice, in traffic, said “oh shit,” I mean here we are, in fear of our lives and he whips around, looks at me and says…”what did you say?” Yeah, we must not forget ourselves even in extremity.

    I remember, too, the tough time you went through last year. My condolences, I know this will be tough this year as the anniversary approaches.

  2. annewlindsay says:

    Thanks Laurie. Yes. William died last year — September 12, 2011. So the first anniversary was just about six weeks ago. One of the reasons I am in Canada was to be with my family and remember him. During his stay in palliative care, where he died, William had entrusted me with funds to look after his immediate financial obligations — bills, out of pocket expenses. I used some of what was left in that account to pay for the anniversary dinner. William had insisted on paying for the memorial service dinner in September 2011. He’d told me he didn’t want his family crying over him; he wanted us to have a good dinner with wine and remember him that way. He was back with us again this year. He picked up the tab. We remembered him, all that was fine and good about him, and we drank a toast to him of course. I could see his big smile. Had he lived he would have turned 60 on the first day of October this year.

  3. williamhaywriter says:

    Sorry to hear of your brother’s death. I know how much he meant to you. I loved your writing of coming winter. Especially the backing up references. So reminded me of Winnipeg and helped me better appreciate the rainy but moderate coast. God’s blessings. Bill

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