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True Winter Tales: Today's pick

A True Winter Tale by Joanne Underwood

By the end of January, 1955, I'd lived in Bagotville, Quebec for nearly two months and so far all I knew of it was snow and cold.  My Air Force father had been transferred there from Trenton, Ontario and my brother and I were learning to adapt to our new surroundings, complete with lessons en Français.

We marvelled at the sheer amount of snow that fell that winter and thought it was a great improvement over the milder, slushier, Trenton climate.  Once, my father didn't even bother to shovel the huge drifts of it in the driveway--he just hollowed out a tunnel we could walk through to get to the road!

I never heard him complain about the snow or cold or even the shovelling.  He was from Winnipeg, after all.  And he'd never really spent a lot of time with his two ten and eleven year old children; he was often away for long stretches at a time flying a helicopter on search and rescue operations out of Trenton.

But Bagotville brought something new to us.  Perhaps it was the snow.  Perhaps it was just an unusual spare day or two around the house.  Whatever it was, Dad went outside to the back yard and commenced to build us a toboggan run down the hill that was our yard.  Not just a straight run either.  This chute curved near the end, probably to stay within the confines of the yard, and had high banked sides.  Once, when a neighbour kid was at the bottom watching the toboggans come down, he leaned in a little too close at the cruve and got a front tooth knocked out when the toboggan didn't quite make the turn.  Seems Dad's little project had to be fine-tuned a little. Today's popular word waiver was not yet in our vocabulary! It did attract a lot of neighbour kids though and many hours were spent adding water to ice it up and generally just enjoying the sub-zero temperatures.

My brother and I hadn't made a lot of friends yet, so were surprised one evening about a week later when the doorbell rang.  We opened the door to see a kid about eight or nine years old standing in the yellow glare of the outdoor porch light.  We didn't know which of us the kid, all bundled up in toque and scarf, was calling on, but we needn't have worried.  A plaintive voice rose up to ask us, "Can your father come out to play?"

Joanne Underwood is from Calgary, AB

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