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In the Bleak Midwinter

Bleak and Cold

We were in our car, travelling toward the city and looking out on a familiar winter scene on an extremely cold day. The frost was thick on the trees and the colour of the sky and snow was a pale blue. Ahead, the the blowing snow scudding across the highway often covered the road like a blanket. Every few seconds the pavement and the centre line was visible, so we knew we were moving along safely. I was seeing photograph after photograph that I liked, but without a camera and without time I had no choice but to press on. We couldn’t be late to see and hear our grand daughters singing in The Calgary Girls Choir Christmas concert. All I could do was plan on getting up early the next day and try to find a similar scene.

Next morning the weather was still cold and I was out and about, however I didn’t have many images in my camera to show for my tenacity.

I kept driving and looking, but couldn’t see anything that reminded me of the bitter cold scenes I had experienced the previous evening. Last night and this morning there was a look to the land that was known well by those who lived and worked in it. Those ranchers who had to keep thinking about their responsibilities, their trusts. Those four legged creatures who could brave some of the cold of midwinter, but who, from time to time, needed protecting from mother nature.

It was not snowing and there was nary a ray of sunlight to add highlights to the land. There was no wind to speak of. Outside the warmth of the car it was calm, but the frigid air seemed to physically grasp me and my fear of frostbite added stress.

It was a classic Canadian winter day and I wanted to make an image that would make one feel the cold.

For some reason, overnight, the frost-formed crystals had dropped from most of the trees. The branches had lost much of their white appearance, but it was still clear that the weather was cold and bleak. I just had to find the right scene to depict that.

I found the scene that you see above. It isn’t what I had hoped for, but at least it reminds me of the almost perfect depiction of a cold winter day that was so obvious the night before.

I know some readers will not feel anything but alienation when looking at this image; but, for this prairie boy, born and raised, it reminds me of what those ranchers and cowboys must still feel today. It is home. It is where I come from. It is what played a part in making me who I am, a Canadian. Not a bad moniker, eh?


The girls' choir concert was one of their best ever. I wouldn’t have missed it — beautiful, harmonious voices, controlled and strong. The Jack Singer Concert Hall was filled with music. Our oldest granddaughter had a solo part, which was prefect. To augment my evening, the organist brought the hall organ to life and made the floor vibrate, just like it is supposed to do at Christmas. The cold feeling of earlier in the evening was dispelled and I came home warm in my heart.



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