Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The heart of winter

Once again we are in a deep freeze with temperatures below the minus thirty mark.  Fingers are cold, toes are cold. The toque doesn't seem to work and the parka doesn't keep out the wind.  The car won't start. When I walk into the woods in Norway House - braving the fierce chill - the only other signs of life are the Ravens and occasional Grey Jays.   There are few tracks in the snow.  

This is the heart of winter.  December is past, January is part, the rest of February waits. And I suspect I'm not the only one wondering, Can I stand it much longer? Will February bring a respite from the cold? Will March? This is the point at which we feel stretched, taxed, tired from the cold.  And even though I do love winter, even I am feeling the burden of the the harsh days, harsh nights.  

One hopeful sign: the daylight hours are increasing.  And at least the days aren't grey, for in northern Manitoba the sun does shine for much of the winter--and that's always a welcome boost. But today I was outside for only small stretches at a time - five minutes here, twenty minutes there - and my face feels burned.  My skin feels hot, sore, leathery. The way skin feels when you spend a summer's day out on the water.  I have acquired a kind of freezer burn, I suppose.

There are few tracks in the snow.  But the tracks that I do see when I head out onto the trails on Fort Island (the island on which I live in Norway House): Wolf tracks.   Yes, indeed.  Even the Conservation Officers have confirmed that there is one Wolf on Fort Island, perhaps two. Often when I'm on the trails, the Wolf's tracks are the only other set of prints beside my own. Though it's difficult to explain why, I take great satisfaction in this.    

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