Can't wait to see the colours of spring
I’m looking forward to spring.
Seriously. After a while my eyes get tired of all the colours of winter, even more than I tire of the chill of the season, the slippery roads and the early defeat of sunlight. All that white and grey starts to get me down.
When I lived here as a child my dad and I would wager (right about now, post Christmas and all the excitement that brings and after the city lived through a real deep freeze or two) about when the cutbanks would turn green. It just seems to happen in one evening, a heartbeat, you know?
I remember telling my southern Alberta friends about it, how overnight the branches would grow heavy with bursting pussy willows and that new green of spring would show itself, glorious, the kind of green that touches your heart with promises of blue skies reflecting bluer lakes. It reminds you of the smell of campfire smoke, coffee roasting on an open flame, and burned hot dogs that somehow seem more delicious than the fanciest fare any restaurant can offer.
Of course, those southern Albertans looked at me like I was a bit dim. After all, they are used to straight shot roads, thousands and thousands of acres of grain, and cows. A whole lot of cows. To them the smell of spring equates with the honey wagon out dumping anything but honey on those rich dark fields that mean their livelihoods.
Those crazy Albertans. Here when the forest starts to clear you know you’re coming into a town. There when you see a few wind-crippled trees bending on the horizon, you know you’re coming into a town. Here we look for a nice flat piece of land to build on. There they look for a danged coulee.
You know, the first time I heard the term ‘coulee’ it was said with such awe I couldn’t wait to see one. Finally, some new friends took me right to the edge of this little bitty grassy ravine just so I could see the coulee. I looked and looked while they grinned and gestured with pride and took deep breaths. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.
Me: Where’s the coulee?
I got a surprised response, a lot of raised eyebrows and a gabble of explanations. Eventually I figured out I was standing on the coulee, that little bitty grassy ravine.
And you don’t even want to know what passes for a lake out there. A lot of them are man-made and swimming in one means wading through a jungle of weeds. Most have a herd or two grazing around them. Pretty? Sure. But they are not potty trained, these cows. Brown ones do not give brown milk, but they all give a whole lot of brown something. Not to be wasteful, it’s likely those crazy Albertans use all that goo to refill the honey wagon.
And, for the most part, you have to pay to get anywhere near a lake in southern Alberta. Sheesh. But there water is a commodity to be used with caution and respect.
That’s not such a bad lesson, actually.
Still, on my drive home as I crossed the Fraser River I let out a whoop of delight. Izzy, my pug (who has a new family now, one that can spend more time with her – and one that bought her a winter coat that’s better quality than mine) gazed at me in curiosity.
I didn’t care. My old bones were home at last. And even though winter is rough and long, I’ll get through it and see another spring that begins for me the day the cutbanks turn green.