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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Yeah. I got nothin.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Day 1825

I woke up that morning in the throws of a short lived period of childish cuteness. The deathly malnourished look of a sickly newborn had passed, and the buck teeth that would be my nemesis in future years had yet to grow in.

Today was Father-Daughter day, and the Big Sister was not invited. Preparation began. Clothes were layered, more layers were added, then topped off with another layer for good measure. The front hall closet was raided, stripped, and repacked, after the discovery of two matching mittens. Or not, the closet may have been raided, stripped, and defeat admitted with the donning of two mismatched mittens.

The car was plugged in and ready to go, the snow was thick, and the fields waited.

Leaving a heated car in the middle of winter in the middle of Saskatchewan is one of the hardest things a person can do. The fact that this act is demanded of countless five year old girls time and time again, is a testament to the true strength of human nature. I, young, unknowing of the battle that this entailed, laced a pair of second hand boots, lost, then panicked, then found, one miscreant mitten, and left the car. Poles flailed, skis hit the snow, and one father-daughter team headed across the bounty of flat for a day of cross-country skiing.

Cross-country skiing isn't something you do for fun. It's not enjoyable, it doesn't offer any thrills, or challenge, and in Saskatchewan, it isn't even about the scenery. After all, you've seen it all the second you stepped out of the car. But it is about the noise. That endless, repetitive Shh-shh, shh-shh of your skis cutting through the silence is similar to the sound of a dryer going around. Buddhist monks would love cross-country skiing.

Did I say it offered no challenge? That is true. What it offers is the slow break down of ability. That constant expenditure of near minimal effort, while you slowly grow more conscious of how many layers of clothing you really are wearing, and how much those layers hinder your movements. The heat of exertion from the inside, combined with a bone-chilling cold seeping in from the outside, until your body is so confused it just wants to give up, go home.

But when you're five, you can't do that. Because this is Father-Daughter day, and the Older Sister wasn't invited. You have to keep going, because this here, this is special time. So you go. And your toes get colder, and colder. After a while, they start to hurt, and the hurt grows. Soon, they burn, and you have to tell your dad. Because you can't stop crying, and the tears are freezing to your cheeks, and making your cheeks burn too.

Then you turn back, and you cry the whole way back to the car. Then you cry the whole way back to the house. And when you get home, your dad carries you, barefoot, into the house, and into the bathroom, where he runs a tub of lukewarm water. You sit on the edge of the tub, wrapped in a blanket, drowned in hot chocolate, with only your feet in the water. Your dad comes in every five minutes to raise the temperature of the water, just a touch.
When he's not in the bathroom, you can hear them yelling at each other. Your mom is furious, terrified. Your dad is terrified, and furious. Every time he comes in to pour more hot water into the tub (just a bit at a time, mind you), he yells at you for not telling him your feet were cold sooner.

You're tired, and your feet still hurt. When your older, you'll understand that your dad was furious because he felt guilty. He should have known better, should have taken you home sooner. He's a nurse, for Christ's sake, in med school. When you're five, you don't understand the terrors inherent with child rearing. The idea that you can take your child out for a day, and frost bite may take their toes for life. All you know is that your feet hurt.

But you, you hadn't said anything. And he hadn't asked. Because for him too, this was special Father-Daughter time, and all there was to think about was those endless expanses of white, broken only by two long tracks. (His tracks, my skis followed the trail he broke.) The gray sky, the shh-shh sound of the skis on snow, the knowledge that this is special time. Following, leading, two little lumps of heat in an infinity of cold.

And who wants to worry about toes then?


Blogger Boo! said...


11/28/2005 11:30 PM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

But it's about the Special Father Daughter time for ouches, there.
Okay, yeah, ouch.

11/29/2005 8:23 AM  

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