Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Thursday, May 17, 2018

In the Blizzard

Winter is finally over.
So let's talk about it . . .
On the prairies, winter storms can blow up very fast.
Obliterating the countryside and bringing visibility to zero.
One can lose one’s way walking between the house and the barn.
The best thing to do is to get inside where it’s warm and stay put.
If one has warning, one can get to the nearest safe place.
If one doesn’t . . .
A storm was coming. The local school had been emptied of children, sent home with strict instructions to get there as quickly as possible.
Most of them made it.
One little girl did not.
As the storm closed over the area, frantic searchers were sent out, fanning the countryside for one tiny figure in the vast, freezing blizzard.
A hopeless search.
It was many hours before my Uncle Owen found her, nearly frozen solid.
He hefted her on his back and began to make his way toward the Stringam home. Partway there, he met his father and the two of them managed to carry the poor, frozen figure the rest of the way.
My Dad remembers the scene well as they carried the still and silent girl into the house. As he told us, her feet ‘clopped together like two wooden blocks’.
She was handed over to my Grandma Stringam, who was largely accepted as the ‘doctor’ in the area.
Grandma took the little frozen body and laid her on the bed. Then, throughout the night, she tended her, rubbing her extremities with coal oil.
By the next morning, the girl was awake and improving.
She survived - her only damage the loss of the nail from one little finger - largely due to the knowledge and care of my grandma.
Pictures of the prairies show a soft, gently-folded landscape. Largely treeless, but covered in waving grass and sagebrush. The occasional stream or river flows through and the sky is clear and endless.
A perfect world.
But, in winter, it is a place to be respected.
Anything can happen.
And when it does, thank goodness for people like my Grandma.

I've written another one!

My newest novel, Hosts is now available on Amazon!
Read it! It's totally fun!


4 comments:

  1. I was gobsmacked at the thought that the school would let out and tell the kids to 'get home as fast as you can' perfectly aware that someone might not make it...they would never get away with that today. She was one lucky little girl.

    ReplyDelete
  2. One very lucky girl. Very, very lucky.
    Nature is not always gentle.

    ReplyDelete
  3. How lucky that your grandma was able to revive that little girl. Here winter is something to be respected also.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I forget how extreme the seasons are in the US Diane - Australian weather is so much milder. That little girl was very lucky she didn't lose more than a fingernail!

    ReplyDelete

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