When the Snow Crunches

At minus twenty, the sound of snow beneath my boots changes – it’s the sound of my childhood.

When the snow crunches, winter has settled in, and no use fighting it. Its tune is infinitely more joyful than the slushy shuffle-step of warmer days. It is the sound of Dad splitting chunks of spruce and pine on the big chopping block, of chickadees seed-diving and scolding the squirrels, of a cardboard Polar Express racing through the backyard after dark. It is the sound of my fingernail scratching peepholes in the frost of my bedroom window, and the breathless hush of northern lights over the Slave River. It is a single sigh – the beauty of resignation.

When the snow crunches, we have an understanding, winter and I. Our friendship goes a long way back, to the dimmest of infant remembrance – me and my red parka tumbling off the toboggan in the shadow of Bear Rock. It embraced me from the start, and I had no reason to let go. There is freedom in bringing out the long johns and Sorels, which is the only real way to dance with the season. For after resignation comes delight. When the snow crunches my toes still tingle with the frostbite of our more intimate moments.
At minus twenty, the sound echoes in some deeper soul chamber, formed by a reality that chose me before memory, and shaped me like fast water flowing under the ice. No use fighting winter when the snow crunches. 


  1. Oh, gosh – how can I ever again complain about the cold here in Connecticut when it's a little below zero at night (sometimes), after reading this? 🙂

  2. Lisa, it's all about what you're used to! I find the messy Maritime winters more miserable in some ways than the very cold winters I had as a child in the Northwest Territories! Hope you are finding ways to create warmth where you are. 🙂

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