|Okay, you have to use your imagination on this one.|
Picture those hills covered in snow.
And kids. And toboggans . . .
It's nearly 30 degrees Celsius (86 F) outside.
Okay, for those of you living in warmer climates, that's probably not very hot.
For those of us in normally snow-bound northern Alberta?
Time to hide in the cool basement.
And tell another winter story.
I should probably mention that in southern Alberta, where we were raised, snow seldom stayed very long.
Even though it was winter.
Oh, it snowed.
Sometimes a lot.
But then the famous Chinook would blow through, raising temperatures.
And melting said snow.
In a few hours, any accumulation would be limited to the ditches and snowbanks.
So when it snowed, and if one wanted to enjoy it, one had to move quickly.
Someone was out in the yard.
I looked out the window onto a scene of glistening white.
And my oldest brother, Jerry, holding the family toboggan.
Squealing (and I do mean squealing) with delight, I donned snow pants, parka, boots, mittens, scarf and toque (it's a Canadian thing).
Remember what I said about the snow lasting a short time?
I donned them quickly.
In no time I was out with my brother.
All of our siblings joined us.
Well the oldest five.
The baby, Anita, wasn't coming.
Jerry sat our youngest brother, Blair on the toboggan, then turned and started pulling the sled towards the river.
The Stringam ranch proper had been built in a bend of the south fork of the Milk River. Any sled-able hills were on the opposite bank.
We trudged along behind Jerry and his sled.
Across the frozen river.
To the hills opposite.
For a couple of hours, we towed up and slid down.
Our shouts and screams of sheer happiness echoing across the wide, open prairie.
Finally, it was time to head home.
Dusk comes quickly, even in Southern Alberta.
And you don't want to try to walk home in the dark.
We crossed the river once more and climbed the hill to the house.
In the entryway, we peeled off layer after layer, laughing excitedly and telling Mom about our adventure.
She just smiled and nodded.
Then produced warm spudnuts (doughnuts made with mashed potatoes in the batter. Yum.) fresh from the oven, and gallons of hot chocolate.
The very best of days.