All the gigantic mounds of shovelled snow lining parking-lot perimeters and residential streetways remind me of what it was like to be a kid both buffered and buffeted by the fickle tempers of Northwest Territory winters. Obviously, I was raised a child of the snow. There was no way to avoid it, when for six months of the year we were submerged in the stuff. We also had the well-below-freezing temperatures, but while it seems that -40 weather is enough to break me now, back then, it didn't seem to have much of an impact on how much time was spent out of doors during the winter months. This was probably thanks to the several layers of insulated clothing that we were suited up and zipped into by our mothers before being hucked like clumsy toddlers out the door and into the mess. If only I could still get away with outfitting myself in thick, slippery snow pants, feathery-hooded parka, mittens on string that threaded through coat sleeves, big furry snowboots, pom-pommed toque, and ream after ream of hand-knitted scarf. Maybe then I'd feel hardy enough to spend time as a playtoy of the elements.
Where I come from, we loved to play push off, referred to as "King of the Hill" by the children of some cultures, where the whole point is to climb to the top of a snow mountain, secure your footing, and shove everyone else off (I loved that game); we built snow mansions, which the girls in my grade 4 class and I did by making paths through the snow that led from "bedroom" to "kitchen" to "living room" - in our snow mansions, there were no roofs, but that was okay; there was skating, sometimes with our class at the local arena rink which made us feel big and important, or sometimes at the home-made rink in the crescent behind mine that was filled in every October by some beleagured father; and best of all, there was sledding, which in my neighbourhood was done at the hill with the inexplicable purple shack at the top. Sometimes we'd get going so fast down that hill we'd panic, terrified that our Krazy Karpets or neon-coloured plastic discs would carry us, our spinning whirling shapes, right over the lip of the river! How we had the energy to run up and down those hills for days on end, I'll never know.
Nowadays, I get grumpy if I have to walk on a sidewalk that hasn't been shovelled in a couple of days!