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Coffee with Warren: Winter’s agony and ecstasy

Photographer Mike Simpson explores the winter of our delight.
Winter beauty in British Columbia’s Wells Gray Provincial Park.

Snowy conditions have been an agony for many of us in southern Alberta recently. But leave it to former Cochrane-area resident Mike Simpson to redeem such agony with the ecstasy of the season, as shared ten years ago in my Apr. 10, 2014 column. Here’s that column.

WOW! WHAT A WINTER we’ve just come through. For the more adventurous it evoked emotions of rave and wonderment. But for others of us, the relentless winter came close to driving us to rage.

Ah yes, rage – snow rage! And we here in the Cochrane area aren’t the only ones feeling it.

Rage was certainly on the mind of a talented reporter with the Winnipeg Free Press recently. Bartley Kives – rhymes with Beavis – gave expression to the feelings around “Winterpeg” in “The Grounds for Violence.”

With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel, Bartley did a take on “The Sound of Silence.” His lament opens, “Hello winter, my old friend / I don’t believe you’ll ever end.” Doesn’t his second stanza echo the sentiment around our own region of the True North strong and free?

“On slippery streets I try to walk / I cannot make it round my block / Because a water main has snapped again / My gate can’t open; it has frozen in / I cannot stand the mere idea / Of April snow / It has to go / These are grounds for violence.”

Thankfully, there’s another side to the story – a side that inspires more awe than falls.

The other day, Cochrane-area mountaineer Mike Simpson shared with me a few photos he’d taken in March during a week of back-country alpine skiing in British Columbia’s Wells Gray Provincial Park, west of Jasper.

While breaking trail through a metre of fresh snow, Mike encountered a winter-wonderland of pristine shapes. There were giant caps of “mushrooms” atop some of the evergreens. Elsewhere, it was as if white-hooded monks were kneeling in prayer and meditation in the sacred silence of Nature’s cathedral.

Yes, for some like Bartley, this was the winter of our discontent; for others like Mike, it was a winter of delight. Ah, the agony and the ecstasy of snow!


© 2024 Warren Harbeck

[email protected]

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