Where Did Winter Go?

I walked out the front door last night, in my light Keyano College jacket on my way to the Leadership Wood Buffalo information session, and paused. Off to my right, in the half light of early evening, the remnants of the snow fort in the front yard grabbed my attention.

"I just built that damn thing," I thought to myself. "It seems like just last week I was starting the pile," that eventually turned into a slide and tunnel. Where did the winter go?

On this weekend several years ago, Heather, Ben and I drove the Fort Chipewyan winter road to experience their annual fishing derby. It was one of the wildest drives of my life, going up and down rolling hills, negotiating blind curves and dipping down into the valleys of the river crossings. We arrived in the community, nestled in a late winter cold snap, temperatures flirting with minus thirty-five emboldened by a desperate and piercing wind.

Arriving at the derby site on a small lake just outside of Fort Chip, hundreds of people were huddled around holes in the ice, cut equidistant from each other in several one hundred metre rows. That was it, holes in the ice. No shelters, nothing.

I was wearing long underwear, but nothing more, no snow pants nor bulky parka. To add more ice to the freezer, my long underwear sported one of those openings so you can....do your business. Unfortunately, the opening tended to stay open inside my pants, allowing the brittle arctic wind to cut right through to my unprotected flesh.

As I desperately tried to thread corn kernels onto the lonely fish hook, a suggestion made by several ice fishing veterans, my fingers became instantly numb and pretty much useless. My privates frozen, my digits immobile, and my thirst for fishing vanished, I grabbed Ben and retreated to the warmth of the van -- my Fort Chipewyan ice fishing adventure done, ten minutes after it started.

So as I watch the retreating snow give way to wisps of brownish grass and enjoy the torrent of drips falling from the roof, I reorient myself to this new and rather pleasant reality of the first week of March.

March 5, 2010 - 191.8 pounds, 25.4% body fat


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