When chimney smoke hangs still and low
'Cross the stubble fields of snow ...
Tommy Thompson - Red Clay Ramblers
|Chimney smoke in Wells. Richard Wright photo|
-40 Celcius - just about where the two thermometer readings meet.
The propane furnace does not shut off.
The wood stove is sucking air and gobbling wood.
Logging trucks roar by, way above the speed limit, belching vapour and sucking up snow behind them. Neighbours call each other. "Are you okay."
It is getting to the point where it is not safe to start machinery, if it deems to start at all.
|Roarin' to the mill. Richard Wright photo|
Gloves and boots and down-filled parkas.
Spend too long outside and you will have frost-bit cheeks.
It takes ten minutes to get ready to step outside, but I ran out in just a T-shirt, I mean JUST a T-shirt, to grab some wood; if you move fast it is just brisk. But body parts quickly retreat.
Fifteen years ago at Pioneer Ranch near Williams Lake our thermometer crashed at -60. Now that is cold. Dangerous.
Ten years ago, twenty years ago, I was out feeding cows and lambing at -40. It was brutal, for all of us.
Yet I remember the sweet smell of hay being fed; hay that we had put up ourselves in +30 the summer past.
Remember the cows running for the sleigh as I tossed off bales while the mules plodded forward guided by a "walk on - whoa - walk on."
The bleating and murmur of ewes about to drop a lamb, or two or three.
The warmth as we tried to help a lamb enter the world of cold, the shake as they struggled to stand, dry off, reach for that first teat.
In those years I took few photos - it was different life I led.
The best thing about farming, my friend Dave says, is that it makes you do things you might not want to - no choice. And you find out you can do it and it's not that bad.
And you know what? This morning, at -40.
I miss it.
|Window frost - Richard Wright photo|