Michael and Allison Goldstein
Winter. It shapes and influences the Canadian way of life. Five months of it in the Niagara Peninsula, and twice that in the high Arctic. It is the original love _ hate relationship: "Canada has eight months of winter, and four months of poor skiing!" Winter. Greasy streets, fender benders, and hair raising skids. Snow filled sidewalks, outrageous fuel bills, late arrivals and cancelled flights. Dead batteries and faulty furnaces. Salt encrusted cars that cost a fortune, slowly vanishing under their coats of glossy paint.
Frozen fingers, cold toes, wet snowsuits, and leaky boots. Sleet in your face, ice on your beard, and hate in your heart. Suck it up through your feet, blow it out through your nose. Winter.
Winter. Glorious deep blue skies, fresh white snow, green pines and no mosquitoes. The sound of sharp blades on a smooth ice surface, squeak of hardpack under your boots, slither of skis on a freshly groomed trail. The screams of children on sleds and toboggans. The silence of the deep woods.
Winter. Ice crusts on your balaclava, fog on your glasses. Your blood singing in your veins, cold air pumping in your lungs. Boundless energy as you ski or snowshoe down the slope, mittens and jacket discarded as the body warms to the exercise. The jingle of bells, the clumping of hooves, the sound of voices raised in song.
The woods are still, in winter. The cracking of a frost rimmed branch resounds like a rifle shot. The snow crunches underfoot as you walk. Chickadees and squirrels provide a woodland concert as they forage. Fresh snow reveals the passage of each forest resident, from the timid fieldmouse to the equally timid doe. A vibrant rapping signals the presence of a woodpecker. Shrill whistles, and a glimpse of a red _ coated masked bandit. Among the wasteland of winter, sighting a male cardinal makes the heart soar.
The rising sun strikes sparks from the snow, highlights the special colours of cedars, picks out the bright hues of nylon ski jackets. The glare from each field seems to sear the eyes, as indeed it can, if prolonged. The blue sky draws your gaze, turning ever bluer as the day progresses, until it seems to become an impossible shade, visible only through polarising filters, and then turns bluer still. Magically, the coldest day seems to warm.
In the early morning, each tiny branch may be lined with frost, reflecting the light like a coating of diamond dust. A whimsical zephyr will cause a miniature snowstorm, a sparkling cloud of frosty gems, that cascades down from each trembling limb. Low light casts blue shadow on the fresh snow, defining the texture of each small depression or hillock, dappling the unbroken surface with light.
The setting sun transforms old corn stalks into miniature golden palms, rising from the snow. Farm fences clone themselves, a network of sharply defined shadows that wind up each lane, escaping further and further from their parents as the sun drops. Evergreens assume a fluorescent shade, each tree appearing to glow with vitality. Conversely, the cold seems to creep back into the day from the dark places. The chill breeze assails the ears, the fingers are suddenly cold as they grip the poles, the warm jacket in the pack a welcome reserve.
The ski trail surface is slower. The snowshoes on the feet seem heavy. Somehow, the skates are dull. It's time to go home, to relax, to replenish the energies, to plan tomorrow's enjoyment of winter.
Contact Mike and Allison: email@example.com