It’s snowing again but now we’re inside and it’s warm. I am making some cowboy coffee and mending my frozen toes and fingers. They are almost warm and not hurting anymore. Almost.
We went out to the lake today. Kamloops lake that is. We haven’t been there since a sunny October afternoon and that day was bright and warm and the shores were decorated with gentle lapping sounds. Today the road here was but a thick smooth ribbon of whiteness, thick and dense like a heavy wool blanket laid on the ground. The shore was white and spreading far, a most perfect postcard…
We make our way to the very edge of lake stepping over logs tucked under blankets of snow. The cold bites the tip of my nose and the boys would agree. Their noses get new hues as we walk: first pink, then nose and cheeks turn red.
The gentle laps that were dancing in the fall are now frozen. Two feet from where we’re standing the ice becomes thin and unfriendly. The boys don’t need many warnings, they’ve met frozen waters before. Four steps further out there’s a fast moving stream, courtesy of Thompson river, that carries an all-size assortment of ice slabs into the lake. The whooshing sound of the floating ice is an eerie one. It’s cold and we need to get moving.
I put my boots on, clamp the skis on and as I slide around on the slightly hardened snow, I create my own frozen sound. It almost sounds like the whirring of a snow robot finding its way around. The boys shoot the bow and the arrows fly like long thin birds into the sky and then land most elegantly, burying their pointed metal heads in the snow. As it sometimes happens, the boys fight their way into learning how to take turns. Egos are sharper then the arrows’ heads and it shows. As it sometimes happens, the boys find a way to stop arguing.
In the distance – shooting arrow distance – a man walks his two majestic Husky dogs and I envy their furry coats that are perfectly impenetrable to the cold that’s nipping at toes and fingers, wool coats on both notwithstanding. It’s freezing cold and I vow to never take my mitts off or change my snow boots for ski boots ever in the middle of a snowy field.
We spend the rest of the time exploring, shooting the arrows, searching for arrows when they get lost in the snow and skiing further down the shores.The boys search for signs of prehistoric life (Sasha) and they plunge on a frozen giant puddle that shines a strange turquoise hue at us (Tony). “Mom, can you pull me around on the ice?” Like a human puck, he means, but I decline. Cross-country skis on ice spell disaster. The cold nips at every square centimeter of exposed skin and it does so to my fingers every times I take my mittens off to take a photo.
“Mom, look, this drift log is stuck in the ice!” Indeed it is, in the middle of the frozen turquoise pond. Sasha caresses it like it’s a frozen animal and it almost looks the part with the ruffled shredded bark all over its half-naked trunk. Sasha gathers some “nest material” and then we head to see an icy crevasse that opens like an icy mouth into one of the frozen rivulets tributary to the big lake.
Round lacy perfection with the gurgle of unstill water underneath: I take photos knowing for a fact that perfection of that kind never shows up in a photo. It’s the angle of the light at that particular moment, the sounds of the snow my boys are stepping on, Tony’s excitement as he kneels and looks into the ice cavern, the distant wailing of a train that plunges head-first into the snow all over just like the boys’ arrows a while ago… How do I catch all that in a photo, you tell me.
We try to walk across the frozen stream, just a couple of steps over a thick bridge of ice, but the light cracking sounds make Sasha back up. His big winter hat is slightly pushed sideways and his big eyes are glowing from above red cheeks. There’s no making him and I like that. He’s cautious. We walk further down where the we can cross in one step and he’s holding onto my pole the whole time. That keeps my heart warm, no matter how freezing cold the outside is: the mama bear soul coat. Backpack on my back, quiver with arrows on the side, a big piece of perfectly-shaped white driftwood in my arms, and Sasha on a stick. There’s no better way of bidding goodbye to the lake shores today.
It started snowing as we were making our way back to the car. We take a path through bushes that are subdued by cold and snow: tangles of rigid branches shaped like countless octopi sown all over the field. I make my way through snow, followed by the same mechanical whirring I started out with. I take a couple of more photos and with that my hands give in to freezing. It’s almost sudden and it feels revengeful. The mitts hurt as I put them back on, a useless act now because my fingers are stiff and hurting.
We unfroze slowly on the drive home. I can’t deny the beauty of snow just because it’s so cold but I wished for the hurting fingers to stop hurting. The fields on each side of the road were endlessly white, some studded with distant minuscule-looking cows and some with random patches of trees and bushes.
It’s been a good white afternoon. Cold too. As I type this, my fingers have returned to being warm and mine. Coffee is done with and tonight we’ll watch Shackleton. Antarctica expeditions have been the talk of the day for a week or so…
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