Land of Ice and Snow(forts)

A Brief Glimpse into What It's like Growing up in the Canadian Prairies, Written as an Award-submission

A particularly beautiful January afternoon, 2017.

As a lifelong resident of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, smack-dab in the middle of the Prairie provinces of Canada, I have developed a love/hate relationship with our winters. The “love” portion of this attitude stems from many fond childhood memories. To say that I adored winter as a child would have been an understatement. Growing up, winter was always regarded amongst the children of the neighborhood as a season of opportunity. As the first snow fell, often as early as October, my young mind filled with visions of snow fort building and backyard skating rink construction. Grassy hills became dusted slopes of pure ice, complete with ramps that could most definitely break your neck if you failed to stick the landing. Whatever the activity, freezing your fingers, face, and toes was worth it. How is it that young children are able to remain seemingly oblivious to the minus thirty temperatures? I am not quite sure... Why, I once tried, and almost got away with camping out overnight in a small, backyard snow cave only to be stopped by my parents on account of the fact that they didn’t want me losing any major appendages at age nine.

February, 2018

Though as time passed and I grew older, I realized that my beloved winter was becoming an inconvenience. So began the transition from the seemingly non-dimmable “love” to more or less a “hate” mindset. It was no longer cool to spend afternoons inside snowbanks when you could be spending time inside the mall. Walking to school became a hassle and a quest to navigate hidden patches of ice when it was once a perfect opportunity to hone snowball-throwing techniques using the back of my younger brother’s head as a target. My love for the frigid months of November through March gradually devolved into the same feeling that hits nearly every resident of Saskatchewan at some point or another: constant annoyance. As the number of times per year I slip and end up sprawled across the sidewalk increases, I wonder; is there any way to recover what has been lost?

Late fall, 2016

As hard as I try to relive past moments of joy, and believe me, I have tried, I always seem to end up with boots full of snow and a startling lack of imagination where it used to be abundant. By this point I seem to have given in and accepted the fact that as long as I remain in this province I am doomed to a year nearly consumed by ice and snow. In saying so, I must give credit to our perseverance. Saskatchewanians’ ability to compromise with mother nature during the long winter months is remarkable, we push through when so many others would throw in the towel, or in this case, shovel. While sitting in my front window with a warm mug of tea and watching the snowflakes fall from the safety of my family’s well-heated home, giving winter another try always crosses my mind. Though I know better than to willingly return myself to the routine of slipping and falling a hundred times over. I think I will simply leave it up to the younger generations of the future to experience for themselves what I once adored.

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