A wind swirling
A wind swirling over the ice-clogged Arctic Ocean gathers itself and takes aim at the sprawling river delta then the barren lands. It conquers them both. It riffles the tree tops in the vast boreal forest. It menaces sleep in work camps. It whirls snow devils like life-size children’s tops on runways where trainee fighter pilots take off and land.
Thousands of kilometers south of the ice mass where it was spawned, the wind invades my city. It stings the eyes. It tries to scrape the skin from the cheeks of those cheeky enough to confront it.
I think of my ancestors who left the United States over a century ago to homestead on the treeless prairie of the brand new province of Alberta. The first winter they spent in a hastily constructed sod-roofed abode. They survived the isolation by treating it as their lifetime’s grand adventure. They sang. They kept diaries. They wrote long letters home that they wouldn’t mail until the wind softened and they could harness the horse and get to the nearest post office. Long, long letters that filled the evening hours.
I have laboured in the open air in winter. I empathize with workers on high-rise construction sites who have no protection from the wind’s assault. I see the homeless on TV. People wandering aimlessly in the streets of bombed out Ukrainian villages. Around all of them the ground is white.
Access to adequate shelter should be a human right. But what’s a human right? Sometimes not even the right to live, as a child, a parent, an amour.
Where I live, we adjust to winter. Even enjoy it. It’s our weather; it’s just the way it is here. Don your skates. Get out the skis. While the dog is taking you to visit his/her favourite tree, enjoy the sight of your breath floating away fast as time.
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