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Rural Roots - Rural Roots is a column by Fred Jones
2013-01-04 at NOON

Memories of snow


Here we are in two-ought-ought-thirteen having survived the supposed Day of Judgement (was there ever any question that we’d not sail on through?) and in my part of the world, praying for snow.

Now in the past, I’ve petitioned Ma Nature for rain when we desperately needed it that resulted in too much that then resulted in admonishment from another Fred. 

Recently I implored Ol’ Man Winter to send us snow that we really (I won’t say desperately) need so as to insure adequate melt in spring for country wells and to prevent forest fires. 

Little snow

Ol’ Man’s response has been sparing in this part of the province where southern Ontario and especially Quebec have received winter’s blessings abundantly but not here.

My friend Graham a.k.a. the Weather Whys guy, has predicted another hot year with precipitation coming at odd times. 

What we don’t need is a confused Nature that one month relaxes with unaccustomed warmth and the next month freezes everything in sight as happened this past March and April.  But, who knows? 

Hard to plan though, especially with a veggie garden or fields that produce hay for horses (my bias).

When my wife Laura and I first walked this property during winter on snowshoes long before we bought it and built barn and Casa Jones, there was at least three feet of snow on the ground. 

I exaggerate not: where the snow was soft our snowshoes would suddenly break through snow covering an air pocket and sink.  I measured the depth to learn that the snow was, on average, blanketing the ground with up to three feet in the open. 

“Not no more”, as they say. 

We’re lucky if we have four inches this winter so far. 

Other Fred will no doubt have words for me if Ol’ Man Winter heeds my call but then errs on the side of over-abundance.

Just the other day I was waxing nostalgic with my children about the good old days of real winter, of real snowfall until I realised that I was talking about a mere ten to twelve years ago. 

In the nineties we had some doozer snowfalls that blocked the driveway to our old house for two days.  It was the day after we brought brandly-newborn daughter Beth back from the hospital.  No electricity for a day and no water.  I recall melting canisters of snow on top of the wood stove for drinking water and for the two horses we then owned. 

Do you know how much snow it takes to get five gallons of water?

We were rescued by Bill Lankinen who owns a grader with a big blade on the front.  He’s been hired by a couple of stranded souls to bust them out of their snow-locked prisons.  I remember strapping on my snowshoes and tromping down the driveway to await Bill’s arrival. 

The township plough had cleared the main road.  When I reached the driveway entrance, I discovered that I was standing a good four feet above the road.  Bill’s big, yellow machine soon arrived and, without pausing, burst through the piled-up snow and on up the driveway. 

We were never so relieved by that sight. 

“Saved!  Saved!” I bellowed in my mind.  The electricity was restored that same afternoon.

Like olden times

The pioneers to this area were prepared to handle being deprived of modern amenities because they didn’t exist as we know them today. 

But for a day and a night we lit our then wee hoosie with candles and oil lamps, melted snow on the woodstove for water, and were able to cook our meals since we’d bought a propane stove that we still have. 

Romantic? For about 10 minutes and then it was work and worry until Bill arrived.

And now I’m silently praying for snow. 

Oh, and a prosperous New Year.

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