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.