Winter Walk

For a brief few minutes it’s just A and me. This isn’t remarkable in itself – most of the time it’s always A and me, with Matt and work and M in school. But it is remarkable because he’s strapped to my chest under my coat and we’re tromping up a trail.


It’s a groomed, wide trail. This isn’t a true wilderness adventure. But the snow is creaking and crunching under the weight of my boots, and the sun is quickly dipping below the visible horizon, and the air is so clear and crisp. For the last few minutes we’d been following Matt and M, hiking their way up with a sled bungeed to another sled. Maybe this is why it reminds me of my childhood – a bit of winter exploration in the brisk north, where everyone ventures out when the cold snap finally breaks and it’s only -20C.

It feels familiar, that twilight setting in, snowballs resting on bent branches. The only sound is my footsteps and a distant train chugging along the lakeshore we just left. A is probably the warmest of us all, nestled into me with my orange parka zipped over his body. Underneath, he’s dressed up like a polar bear.

This is one of our favourite places in town — I’d venture one of our favourite places in the world. We came walking here in the first winter storm of the season when I was in early labour with M. It feels like home and I am so happy to be walking this trail with A, no matter how much the cold is making my head throb.

We all meet at the car — one of two left in the parking lot — and artfully do the dance of getting each kid in a car seat, loading the sleds in, defrosting what needs to be defrosted. We’re going home for a warm meal and a warm bath and a hot, hot fire thanks to the load of split pine dropped at our garage door earlier this morning.

My heart is full.

A Pic-a-nic

The torrential downpours outside are hopefully doing something to melt our remaining snow! It’s still not quite time to come out of hibernation, though we’re getting there. Last weekend we decided we’d still try to get out of the house, so Matt packed up a picnic lunch and we headed off in search of dry ground.

Picnic2

We slogged through the mud and ended up at our favourite beach (which does not look nearly as nice this April). It was really windy coming off the lake, so we huddled up with blankets, ate our sandwiches quickly, then got back in the truck.

Picnic

See, cold! This was pre-blanket, however.

Even though it was chilly it was still nice to get out of the house. Maybe this weekend it’ll be all mud, no snow!

O, Tannenbaum

‘Twas a few weeks before Christmas, and all through the land,
Tree hunters were preparing, axes in hand.
The stockings were hung yet the window was bare;
But it wouldn’t be long ’till a tree was placed there.

This blogger couldn’t sleep, all snug in her bed
With visions of balsams dancing in her head.
Matt in his mittens and Pat in his cap;
Jesse, Melissa and Ashley, too, set out sans map.

Along the highway we travelled, making such a clatter;
Trucks filled with the noise of four-wheel drive, and chatter.
Down Vermillion River Road we went in a flash.
We’d find a tree, and we wouldn’t pay cash.

The gentlemen played in the new-fallen snow,
Jumping and leaping and finding things to throw.
When what to our wondering eyes did appear
But a beautiful, tall tree, looming near.

With a big bushy base and a trunk so thick
I knew in a moment it could be our pick!
On closer look, it was sadly a shame
“It has gaps in the branches,” Matt did proclaim.

“Now BLACK SPRUCE! now HEMLOCK! now BALSAM FIR!
On, JACK PINE! on RED PINE! You’re all conifers!
To the edge of the forest, for once and for all!
I’ll find a tree if I have to crawl!”

They looked to the ground, they looked to the sky
The tree-cutting time, it had to be nigh.
Frozen swamps, sickly trees, and slush they pushed through,
Knowing there had to be one nice tree in Sioux.

And then, in a twinkling, it appeared in a poof–
Jesse attacked it like a maniacal goof.
Finally, the Christmas tree, it had been found.
We just had to remove it from its place in the ground.

I inspected the tree, walking over on foot
But as Jesse axed it, I didn’t want to stay put.
Just as I spun and turned my back
The tree went down, with a mighty crack.

It was a large, tall tree, but not too hard to carry
We’d use Pat’s truck as a vessel to ferry.
The end stuck out over brake lights aglow,
So we tied a red pine air freshener on it, with a bow.

We bumped back down the road, gritting our teeth
The ground icy and rugged with potholes beneath.
The tree in the truck bed must have shook like jelly
Free to bounce, and faux-pine-tree-smelly.

It went up at home, between each tall shelf,
Helped along by a scissor-wielding elf.
Then, we dug into a sweet Christmas spread,
chocolate, truffles, bacon, shortbread.

The men strung the lights, making quick work
(Okay, so the tree may have had a few quirks).
Ashley wore garland on top of her clothes
while we hung all of the ornaments I carefully chose.

Clockwise from top left: Wedding photo stuffed into a clear ball with felt flowers & ribbon from the wedding, a new moose, one of three American state ornaments representing our honeymoon, and the wedding invitation ball.

Clockwise from top left: another deer, a Christmas card ornament (tutorial coming soon!), our new star purchased for $5 at Canadian Tire, a shiny gold feather, and my favourite new moose.

To heavy metal Christmas tunes Jesse did whistle;
The Fireball and cider had the effect of a missile.
Kat and Bob were the last friends to drive out of sight,
Leaving us to bask in sweet Christmas tree light.

*My apologies to Clement Clarke Moore.

Marbles the Cat, Autumn 2012

Marbles is known to be a skittish cat. He immediately velcroed himself to us when we picked him up at the shelter, and displayed no signs of nervousness — until one day, we had house guests, and he tried to jump through a second-floor window. We’ve since discovered that he’s a bit of a scaredy-cat, especially around strangers, and especially outside. For the longest time, if either one of us so much as looked at him while he was out of the house, he’d go flying off into the trees and we wouldn’t see him until the next day.

The cats are on a new schedule for going out. We let them out first thing in the morning, they usually come around for lunch, and then they’re out again until we get home. I know that having semi-outdoor cats increases the risk that they’ll get hit by a car, but they’re smart about staying off the road, and really, they love being outside so much that we’ve decided their quality of life is probably bettered for it.

Anyway, since we started them on this new schedule, Marbles has been hanging around the house a lot more. I’m not sure if it’s because he doesn’t get fed in the morning so he’s hungrier, or because he’s not outside when dusk hits, but he’s been a lot more relaxed about letting one of us pet him every once in awhile, or sitting on the deck without freaking out if we open the door.

I was really surprised, though, when he came running up to me last week while I was sitting in the backyard with my camera. I heard a jingle and figured it was Maggie, but when I turned around, there was Marbles, positively gleeful to see me.

He really would not leave me alone. If I stopped petting him for ten seconds to try to take a picture he’d jump up on my legs and flat-out throw himself onto my face, desperate for attention… until he spotted something behind me and ran away.

Fickle kitty!

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