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A Canadian rite of passage

If you’ve lived in this country long enough, then you have probably experienced a winter blizzard. Last week Mother Nature unloaded one of her finest snow storms on Saskatchewan. For many days following, folks were still dealing with the aftermath of receiving anywhere from 30-35 cm of snow in one fell swoop. It was a clean-up mess.

The clean-up was one thing, but for anyone who found themselves caught on the road in the midst of the storm, the situation was dire. Facing whiteout conditions while ploughing a path through huge drifts was hazardous, if not perilous. Those who emerged unscathed except for white knuckles which had to pried from the steering wheel and red eyes from peering into the blinding snow, did so with some bragging rights as compensation.

No matter how much we may gripe about enduring a winter blizzard, there is a certain degree of pride in being able to say we faced the elements, we persevered, and, hopefully, we triumphed.

Anytime we face one of these winter weather occurrences, I am inevitably reminded of a story one old timer in the district told me. It seems that the local senior hockey team was returning home from an out of town hockey game. When the players and fans emerged from the arena to board the bus, they found it had begun to snow.

As they made their way homeward, the gentle snowfall turned into a full-blown raging blizzard. At one point, one of the fellows on the bus got out to walk ahead to check the depth of the snowbanks on the highway. Meanwhile the bus stopped as a discussion had ensued regarding whether or not they should continue driving.

The fellow walking ahead, realizing that he was not being followed, returned to the bus. “What’s wrong?” he wondered. “Am I going too fast?”

I’m sure that story was told and retold many times at the local coffee row.

Robert Service, our famous poet of the North, once penned that being a true sourdough meant drinking a libation known as an iceworm cocktail. I would suggest that being a bona fide Canadian might mean having survived a winter blizzard and having your own personal story to brag about the encounter.

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