COLUMN: Winter still brings chills and thrills – just a different kind

COLUMN: Winter still brings chills and thrills – just a different kind

Sliding on snow and ice was much more fun using a sled or skates

There was a time when a forecast calling for 15 cm of snow would have filled me with excitment, rather than a looming sense of dread.

Instead of causing me to fret about if, how and by what route I would make it into work – as opposed to into a ditch or the side of another vehicle – the prospect of a mountain of fluffy white flakes conjured visions of snow forts, snowmen and snow angels, all constructed (ideally) during an unscheduled day off school. Weekend snowstorms were fun, too, and in their aftermath, we could usually be found playing outdoors until dark – which in Dawson Creek, in January was about 4:30.

We had a great tobaggan hill in Pouce Coupe, a 10-minute drive southeast of Dawson Creek.

I’m sure if I returned to look at it today it would be only half as big and a fraction as thrilling as I recall.

Half as big looking down from the top, that is. Viewed from the bottom, while pondering the hike back up, it would no doubt have grown exponentially in size.

This particular hill featured one long, gradual smooth slope for more cautious sliders and another, next to it, that was just a series of bumps and jumps. This one would send about half of the riders flying headlong off their crazy carpets, long before they had to hit the brakes to avoid crashing into the folks who’d made it to the bottom along the slow and steady route and who were now forced to scramble out of the way, lest they be mowed down.

A few miles farther down the road, right on the Alberta border and surrounded by evergreens, was Swan Lake.

I don’t imagine it happened every winter, but I remember skating on it once after it froze solid during a windless stretch, creating a glassy smooth surface.

I wore a secondhand pair of figure skates with minimal ankle support and blades that weren’t overly sharp, but it was – and remains – one of the most quintessentially Canadian experiences I’ve ever had.

Even for kids, winter is not all fun and games. Anyone who’s ever licked a hunk of frozen metal (and who hasn’t?) can tell you that.

Why is it that every kid in every northern climate has at some point felt the need to stick their tongue on a metal downspout, lamp post or – in my case – rainbarrel when the mercurly drops?

For me, the idea was probably planted by the same older brother who delighted in pelting me repeatedly in the head with snowballs the minute enough had accumulated on the ground to scoop up in a mitten. If it happened to not be particularly deep yet, and that snowball happened to be filled with pebbles, oh well.

Aside from a particularly traumatic bee sting, the one childhood injury that has lingered in my brain for 40-plus years is the feeling of the top layer of my tongue tearing away as I pulled it free from the side of the metal drum. I can still recall the taste of blood.

But, yeah, skating, that was fun.

These days, sliding across a sheet of ice is somewhat less thrilling, as I rediscovered on my way to work on both Monday and Wednesday mornings.

Like the old tobaggan hill, when winter hits in the Lower Mainland roads are filled with two kinds of people – those who appreciate a smooth and gradual ride that will eventually get them where they want to go and those who’d rather fly by the seat of their pants and slam on the brakes if someone should happen to cross their path.

When you see those guys coming, it’s best, if you can, to just scramble on out of the way.

Brenda Anderson is editor of the Peace Arch News.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, updates British Columbians about COVID-19 at a press conference earlier this week. (B.C. Government image)
B.C.’s 1st case of COVID-19 confirmed a year ago today

Here’s a look at some of the key dates in the province’s fight against the novel coronavirus

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey council approves $420,570 in grants for local arts, culture groups

This happened at Monday night’s council meeting, to cover 2021

In September 2018, former Vancouver Canucks player Dave Babych tees off at Northview Golf & Country Club in Surrey during the 35th annual Jake Milford Charity Invitational tournament. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
No ‘shotguns’ or banquets: Surrey golf courses pitch COVID-safe tournaments for 2021

With spring on the way, course operators book tournaments that will involve ‘tweaks and adjustments’

Investigators placed dozens of yellow evidence markers on the ground near the site of a fatal shooting in Langley City early Wednesday morning. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
UPDATE: 22-year-old man killed in targeted shooting in Langley

South Surrey vehicle fire may be linked to homicide: police

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Grad student Marisa Harrington and her supervisor Lynneth Stuart-Hill say preliminary results from a study into the affects of stress on hospital nurses show an impact on sleep and heart variability. (Courtesy of Marisa Harrington)
University of Victoria study shows stress impact on B.C. nurses

Stress may be impacting sleep, heart health of hospital nurses in Victoria region

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Vancouver Island woman looking to hop into bigger space for bunny rescue operation

Amy McLaughlin has rescued more than 400 bunnies, pushing for the capacity to help more

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to
Roof of BC Place a stage for performers during online music festival

‘This will be the first time any artists have performed from the 204-foot iconic Vancouver rooftop’

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Most Read