"Well, Kimmy, winter's over."
My husband D said this to me about a month ago. We were on our way home from slogging through thigh-deep snow on a sledding expedition with the kids in nearby Tout's Grove. D isn't one to err on the side of optimism, so this uncharacteristically positive statement took me by surprise. Especially since just the day before, he'd announced loudly to no one in particular that he was "sick of all the (insert naughty word) snow."
D is better known for his annual "summer's over" announcement, which he makes in the laconic tone of an undertaker around the second week of June. This is before summer solstice has even started. I know. He's a little weird.
But on that day, the "winter's over" comment was particularly weird. I wanted to remind him that we'd just spent the better part of three hours towing 80 pounds of soggy children up and down a very steep incline, not to mention the impressive twelve-foot hill of snow in our backyard. It had a surface the texture and hardness of crystallized brown sugar and the wind froze the bottom half into chunky moguls that rattled my spine every time I had to toboggan down it with one of the kids. Even when the sun shone, the air was still cold enough to make me understand brass monkeys and their unreliable nether regions. I couldn't even take down our Christmas decorations because they were hopelessly frozen to the lawn. How, exactly, did my beloved husband figure winter's end was nigh? Being the wise wife that I am, I decided to do what I do when he says summer is over: roll my eyes and keep quiet.
At the risk of receiving bloggy hate mail, I will admit that winter is my favourite season. I'm never in any hurry to see it go, no matter how freakishly cold and snowy it's been. But last week, after I shuffled the kids off to the bus, I turned my face east and drank in the sunshine for a moment. I decided that a walk was in order, something I hadn't been doing regularly because it felt like the wind would peel the skin off my face if I stayed out longer than twenty minutes. But there was no wind that day. None. Freaky for a place like Someday Farm, which is possibly the windiest place in the Bruce.
I scaled Mount Someday and headed south past the stables. At times, my waist was the same height as the fence line as I crunched along the wind-packed snowdrifts. Occasionally I'd hit a sinkhole and plunge in up to my thighs, all the while thinking what delicious coyote bait I'd make if I couldn't heave myself out again.
Coming around the bend behind the stable, I spied a cosy little hollow between the pine trees that guard the east entrance to the property. The drifts on either side sparkled in the sun. I sank down gratefully, tipped my head back to let the light wash over my face and smiled. I heard the wind sigh above me in the pine trees, just like my son does the moment before he falls asleep. Crows chortled briefly somewhere behind me until a beautiful, holy silence enveloped me. I took a deep, long breath of March air and thought I caught a hint of maple sweetness, a touch of smoke. I pulled a hand out of my woollen mitten and touched the snow. For once, the cold didn't bite my skin.
Maybe D was right. Despite the looming presence of Mount Someday and the disappearance of our fence lines, the air felt different. The sun was brighter. The snow glittered instead of squeaking like tormented mice under my boots. When I huffed myself out of the hollow and walked back to the house, a whirl of finches scattered into the sky above me; I hadn't heard their sweet gossip in months. It meant that the robins and red-winged blackbirds wouldn't be long in arriving to gobble all the berries off the ash tree. And that would mean only one thing: winter would be over.
That night, I washed dishes while D and Carman chatted at the kitchen table behind me. "Wasn't the weather nice today?" I said with a grin over my shoulder at the brothers Lowry. They eyed each other and Carman raised his eyebrows. Oh crap, I thought. My shoulders and triceps began to ache with phantom pain at what I knew was coming next.
"Well, Kimmy, I guess that means it's almost sapping time," Carm said.
Winter's over, indeed.