Every Mile is Two in Winter

February 26, 2011 on 6:07 pm by Michael Grey | In Random Thoughts, Stories | 3 Comments

“Every mile is two in winter”, wrote the English poet, George Herbert. I couldn’t agree more. And if Georgie had lived in Canada and not England – where winter is pretty much over – he might’ve replaced two with three – or five.

At this point in February I’m fed the eff up with it. Like a lot of you, I’d guess – at least the you in the northern hemisphere. Of course for you lucky Antipodeans, it’s nothing but bonnie summer days.

I’m cleaning out the office this gloomy Saturday afternoon and got side-tracked flipping through an old photo album; one that belonged to my late Uncle Robert. I came across one gem that reminded me how lucky I am – or how lucky we are – to live when we do. It’s a photo of my father, William, probably taken with a Brownie camera around 1936. Scrawled on the original in my grandmother’s hand, “Bulwer school bus”.

Bulwer is a small farming community in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. My father’s family settled here in July 1929 after emmigrating from Scotland courtesy of a World War I veterans’ program (I can’t imagine it was called a “program” in those days).

Anyway, some school bus: a horse-drawn sledge!

It looks pretty, um, basic to me: there appears to be windows and, well, horses. And that’s about it. Brrrrrrrr. I guess it beat the one or two mile trudge in the snow from farm to school but the horse-drawn sledge reminds me that winter in rural Canada in the 1930s probably wasn’t all that cosy – or easy. It would’ve been very different, wouldn’t it?

No afternoons at the mall, or the “food court”, or the movies, or the PlayStation, or the Internet …

But, then, there was dashing through the snow.



  1. I hear you loud and clear on the “enough already” with winter. Excellent photo. When I think I’ve had enough, I like to think of the Cree hunters 500 years ago. How did they survive here? Tipis, buffalo robes, fires, tea…and as my brother pointed out to me the other day, we’re in what they called ‘the starvation moon,” when stores are scarce, and game not plentiful. And yet, the days are getting longer, the tide has turned. Keep the head down, and soon it’ll be time to think about spring flooding. Quick, find a poem about that.

    Comment by iainmacd — February 26, 2011 #

  2. The Flood by Robert Frost
    Blood has been harder to dam back than water.
    Just when we think we have it impounded safe
    Behind new barrier walls (and let it chafe!),
    It breaks away in some new kind of slaughter.
    We choose to say it is let loose by the devil;
    But power of blood itself releases blood.
    It goes by might of being such a flood
    Held high at so unnatural a level.
    It will have outlet, brave and not so brave.
    weapons of war and implements of peace
    Are but the points at which it finds release.
    And now it is once more the tidal wave
    That when it has swept by leaves summits stained.
    Oh, blood will out. It cannot be contained.

    Comment by Michael Grey — February 26, 2011 #

  3. Thanks, I needed that….

    Comment by iainmacd — March 2, 2011 #

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