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30 September 2010 | Category: Stories | Author: Clare

We seem destined for an early winter in the Valley, and although we are teased with the occasional warm day, the nights and mornings are chill, and the leaves are starting to migrate from the trees.


As undeniable as the cry of a rooster in the morning, there is no point arguing with the golden of the birch and aspen, or the increasing stream of confetti that signifies the swift turn of summer to fall, the short marriage that will descend into winter.


It is odd to find yourself hoping that you are mistaken by the signs around you.... willing the river not to be low; straining to hear the chatter of the birds you know are already gone.


Odd to rub your eyes in the morning and blame your imagination for the wisps of breath in the air you are pretending not to see.


We haven't startled an elk yet on our wanders around the property, and though the meetings are becoming less frequent, we do still see bears from time to time.


And so the hallmarks of early winter are still not complete.


But unlike the open optimism of spring time, accompanied as it is by a concert of birds and a rustle in the trees that seemed to have been absent for far too long, fall is a much more sombre time.


It is a time or preparation; of hauling and chopping, of stacking and cutting, of cursing as you inevitably hit a finger, crush a toe or wince as you narrowly miss your leg with a poorly aimed axe.


It is a time to gather yourself for the long nights ahead – for the inevitable blanket of sleep that will descend on this place in the winter.


There is an inherent oddity in the labour intensive preparations for winter in the Rockies. We work so hard to ready ourselves for a period of, in reality, forced slumber. An irony to life here.


The short days will translate into long nights indoors, and it is with fondness that I remember last winter; a blur of endless evenings, quiet time and the camaraderie associated with venturing outside all bundled up to take care of this project or that; woollen socks, toques and gloves organised and on rotation.


A sense of achievement and sturdiness just in being in this environment.


Some people who are cleverer than me have written about the relationship between topography and climate on the human condition and character. I do not think it is inaccurate to assume that our surroundings have such a bearing on who we are, or who we become.


I guess we should be careful then where we find ourselves.

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