Winter has arrived. Snow covers the ground like a duck down duvet. Snow hangs from the boughs of the trees and snow is beginning to fall again. It is a winter wonderland out here on the islands.
C.’s brother N. is visiting from the city. He came up to the island to help butcher the big mule deer that C. brought home from the last hunting trip of the season. Three days ago it began to snow and now N. is stuck here for the moment, trapped by the snow-obliterated road on the next island that leads to the outside world. This morning I called the fellow who maintains the roads there. He cheerfully told me that he had just got the grader repaired, and that he probably would not be able to get plowing out to the end of the road until Monday; too much snow to be dealt with first on the south end of that island. He had already been part way out by truck and had removed a fallen tree that was also blocking the route.
I feel trapped too, in a way. Our car is at the garage at the south end of that same island, undergoing a minor repair. The repair job has now been delayed because of emergency snow issues with fellow motorists there. We have no wheels at the end of the road and don’t yet know when we will have them again.
We could travel by boat to the nearest village on that island, but that is a long way and a nasty, cold ride in an open boat in this wintery weather. Still, if we get desperate we could go that way, unless it begins to blow hard southeast, in which case the sea would be too rough for our little boat. No wheels there either, so it would be a trudge up to the store and back again.
Daughter R. was planning to visit us on her days off this week, but cannot drive out along the unplowed snowy road in her little car, so we won’t be seeing her for a while. Daughter F. had her English final exam at college cancelled yesterday due to the snowfall; to be rescheduled closer to Christmas. The snow separates us from both girls at the moment.
I have not been to town for over a month. To be honest I am beginning to feel a little bushed. Not since before Remembrance Day have I been able to venture far from home. Food, or lack of it, is not really an issue although some of the groceries are beginning to dwindle, but up at the garden, underneath the snow there are greens (slightly frozen) and a few leeks, some parsnips and potatoes to be unearthed. The wooden apple boxes are still half full. Both freezers and our pantry are full and well-stocked.
Socially I don’t feel too deprived either. A few weeks ago the Coast Guard crew from the nearest town brought their two vessels to the community dock on the next island for an afternoon of show and tell. Plenty of people attended that gathering, the potluck lunch and the information session that followed.
I also attended book club last month where about 25 women from the islands congregated at a neighbour’s home for lunch and an afternoon of visiting. December’s book club meeting is coming up next Sunday at another friend’s home on the neighbouring island. Getting there by boat will be no problem. There will be good treats to eat and an enormous bowlful of homemade eggnog which will help the festive season begin to sink in.
At the local school, just up from the community dock on the other island, the children’s Christmas concert is scheduled for this coming Wednesday. No doubt we will attend this traditional event where our youngest neighbours will provide a good morning’s entertainment. Traditionally the concert is followed by yet another community potluck lunch and everyone will venture out of their cave for the day.
That will be about the first time that Christmas will have been mentioned. Christmas, what’s that? Because I have not been to town for a month I have pretty much missed out on all the hype, all the advertising, the glitz, the baubles, the pressure to spend, spend, and spend some more. For that I am truly grateful. This has been one of my favourite things about bringing up our children in the bush, off the grid, out in the boonies. Christmas, for the most part, was whatever we decided we wanted it to be, it was whatever we made it, usually simple and family-oriented. We liked it that way, still do, and I think our girls do as well.
Even if the snow prevents me from getting to town before the holidays begin, it will be fine. I will put pen to paper, write a few letters, send a few cards. I will post these from our tiny local post office at the community dock on the next island. This is the only floating post office on the coast, if not in all of Canada. Three times each week, depending on the weather, a float plane arrives to deliver and collect the mail.
If I put my mind to it, I will probably be able to make a few little gifts for my family. Even if we are unable to get to the store to purchase a turkey we have options. In the freezer there is a nice big venison roast, or a lovely fillet of salmon that would make a delicious and festive Christmas dinner.
Feeling bushed, like being bored, is really a state of mind, and not too difficult to overcome if one gets busy and focuses on something else. As for getting to town, we will simply have to play it by ear and see how things go with the weather. Uncle N. might be stuck here until the spring thaw! Like everything else to do with life on the island, so much depends on the weather.