True Winter Tales
A Walk in the Snow by Christine Selinger
To celebrate the holidays and give you inspiration for our current creative nonfiction competition, we are presenting seven of our favourite stories from last year's True Winter Tales challenge.In today's story, Christine Selinger remembers a winter day that changed her life.
Everyone has that one day they remember; that one winter day that really stands out amongst the rest.
In late December of 2006 I had flown from my home in Regina to Kamloops, where my sister Chelsea was in the Adventure Program at Thompson Rivers University. I was thrilled to be with her; I knew she was excited to show me everything she had learned and I was even more excited to get to meet her friends and participate in just a snippet of the activities the mountains had to offer.
We spent the first day skiing and snowboarding, and on my second day we were slated to go snow-shoeing through the trails at Sun Peaks. I was looking forward to spending a day at a slightly slower (and flatter!) pace, but my body had suddenly become aware that I had tried to learn to snowboard the day before. I awoke to numerous bruises and muscles the screamed even on the trip down the stairs. Though I tried to whine my way out of it, Chelsea insisted that we stick to our plan.
It was December 17. It was sunny and decently warm for that time of the year. Although my leg muscles continued to ache, they loosened up after the first kilometer and I found that I was really glad we had come. We stopped in a clearing about halfway through our loop and sat in the snow to eat our picnic lunch. The view was absolutely breathtaking. The sun reflected brightly off every untouched snowflake. A vast clearing of glitter framed with evergreen trees. The slopes of Sun Peaks in the distance, and the smell of truly fresh air. Crisp and cold with only the sounds of the birds and wind to echo back to us. I took many pictures that day but, as usual, the pictures truly cannot do it justice. It was the moment that made it perfect. The exercise had caused my lungs to breathe a bit harder than they normally do and I was warm despite the cold weather.
My right snowshoe broke about halfway back to the trailhead; I struggled with it for several kilometers, tripping on everything on the trail and digging my way out of my fair share of holes. As frustrating as those last few kilometers were, words cannot explain how glad I am to have had that day. It's been five years, but I still remember the warm burn of well-used muscles.
The next day a rappelling incident fractured a vertebrae in my lower back and I have been a paraplegic ever since. Though I have since been out sit-skiing, nothing can quite measure up to my picnic lunch in the snow with my sister. I look back at it nostalgically, not with sadness, and remember it as both the perfect way to end a story and a great beginning to an even better story to come.
Find out more about our creative nonfiction competition.