Winter has arrived. After a slow start to the season, temperatures have fallen and snow sits on the ground. For many, this is the season to dread — icy streets, frigid temperatures, and gusty winds. This becomes the season of hibernation. This is the reality of winter in Winnipeg.
Looking out of my patio window at a snowy landscape, a story about my grandfather comes to mind. He immigrated to Winnipeg from Austria after the Second World War. When he arrived here, he was suffering from a lung ailment that forced him to stay indoors during the bitterly cold winter months. He would sit by the picture window in my childhood home and look outside at the world beyond the glass barrier.
"Anna," he would call to my grandmother."Come quickly! You must see this. The world is full of sparkling diamonds this morning. It’s a miracle."
This morning I share his excitement. Overnight, heavy snow has fallen, and it hovers on every branch of every tree in our back yard. It glitters on the bare bushes, and hangs tenuously on last year’s giant sunflower heads. Only the chickadees, black and grey, punctuate the white world outside my window.
I am struck by the beauty that a cold winter day in Winnipeg can provide. I suddenly realize that perspective is everything. We can hibernate all winter long and complain about the harsh prairie conditions, or we can embrace the season and revel in its beauty.
When was the last time you skated at the local rink? Can you remember the childhood joy of building a snowman or a snow fort in your own front yard? Picture the rush of tobogganing down a slope. Have you ever strapped on a pair of snowshoes or cross country skis and explored our many parks in winter? Do you remember the fun of a horse drawn sleigh ride?
It will be at least four months before the snow disappears and the temperatures begin to rise. We can bemoan that fact and hibernate, or dress warmly, get outside, and get moving.
On this winter morning, I drive to Bird’s Hill Provincial Park and hike the Chickadee Trail. Suddenly I glimpse a white tailed deer on the path ahead of me. We share a glance before he flicks his tail and bounds off into the forest -- beauty in the dead of winter. Perspective is everything.
Joanne O’Leary is a Riverbend-based writer.
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