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In the Bleak Midwinter

Bleak and Cold

I kept driving and looking, driving and looking, but still couldn’t see anything that reminded me of the bitter cold I had experienced the previous evening. That night had been cold — very cold. So cold that the stark skeletons of the aspens and poplars in the fields were white with frost. Off-white, almost colourless snow lay upon the ground. It was made to look even colder by the dying blue light that filtered through the cover of cloud and fog. I took all this in from the warmth of our car, but it chilled me to the bone inside.

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. That evening was one of those times.

It was not snowing. Nary a ray of sunlight to give a sense of warmth. There was no wind to speak of. The ambiance was silent. It seemed calm, but once I stepped into the grasp of the frigid air, my fear of frostbite added stress.

Yet, it was a classic Canadian winter scene that gave me a distinct feeling and I wanted to make an image that would make one feel the cold without being in it.

However, the activities of the night had been determined. We were on a schedule travelling to the city from our country home to see and listen to several of our granddaughters with their choirs singing the music of Christmas.

There I was in the car, travelling toward the city, viewing this iconic scene of coldness and potential risk to one’s body, but without a camera and without time. I told myself that I would be up early and back the next morning. That is what I was now doing, but without much to show for my tenacity.

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 a prairie boy, born and raised, it brings back memories that remind 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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