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  • Writer's pictureTerry Groves

B.R.A.T.S. Winter Adventures

Kid skating

I find it curious that what constitutes a weather disaster now, I viewed as an exceptional experience opportunity as a teen. I don't recall the exact year, but it was around 1973-74. We were stationed in Kingston, living on Lundy's Lane, right beside the Protestant Chapel, across from Batoche school. I think it was January of February. What I do remember is the ice storm we had. Everything was coated in ice. The trees, streets, sidewalks, parking lots, lawns, everything was a sheet of ice over the snow. And it was hard, no breaking through just by walking on it. In fact, I recall lacing on my skates and skating down the street, across the gravel parking lot by the gully beside Batoche school. Across lawns. I was able to skate everywhere. It felt like I could go anywhere. At least until the sanding trucks came out. There were few cars on the roads because there was no traction. People mostly stayed home but i was out there, enjoying this rare treat from mother nature. When we were in Winnipeg, it was about 1964 or so, we were living in a two story house on the corner of Leicester Square. There was so much snow. We used to say that we were trapped in our house, having to climb out a second story window because the snow was so deep but I believe that was just adolescent exaggeration borne of a need to outdo everyone else's worst winter stories.

Car stuck in snow

In one story, a hapless family became stuck in the snow in their car. They couldn't get out and the snow eventually buried their car. Another car, driving along the same road, became stuck on top of the first car, it too becoming buried with he occupants still inside. Such was the exaggerations that occupied our minds and stories, making the whole incident a lot more dramatic (and fun) for having survived it. We did end up with fantastic piles of snow to play on. Living on the base was great because snow removal equipment was owned by the base and those guys did a wonderful job. Plows, snow blowers, sanding trucks; we didn't care too much for the sanding trucks but the plows and snow blowers were equipment of infamy. Many stories, all likely only real in the imagination of young brats, spoke of hiding under the snow at the side of the road and being plowed into the snowbank. Or being scooped up by the snow blower and flung through the air. Of course, that was a load of crap and we all knew it but we all oohhed and aahhed at the teller of the story out of some sort of respect for their ability to make it seem like it could happen. Perhaps it was some of those stories that inspired me to write my fiction. What I do know is real is some of us, I no longer remember who was with me but at least one of my brothers, it was seldom I was alone of them, and maybe some friends too, waiting for the snow blower to come by and dump snow on us. We thought it would be great fun, the driver of the machinery didn't and stopped and yelled at us to get out of there. In hindsight, he was the smart one. Chunks of ice and packed snow could cause real damage to a tiny body, but we only saw that we had got caught and missed out on something. And then there was the tale of the kid who was walking along the top of a snow bank when the snow blower went by, falling in front of it and getting chopped into a million pieces and spewed in a red mess. When we were told of this, we ran to the site of the incident, eager to witness the blood and gore. What the teller claimed was the remains of the kid (always nameless as the story was retold) but what looked suspiciously like just some sand-laden, brown snow, the same as you would see pretty much anywhere the plow or snow blower dug a little deeper into the hard pack, tossing up some of the sand and salt. We all oohhed and aahhed, as was tradition, but I wasn't fooled. Even at my young age, about six or so, I knew the story was crap, but something inside me wanted it to be true. Poor kid of my imagination, having to endure such a gruesome fate because of my active mind. In those massive snow banks, we whiled away hours building forts, tunnels, climbing, falling, throwing snow chunks, making angels; hours of play aided by the vision of our imagination. How innocent and adventuresome we were then, now it is just something that needs to be shoveled.

What do you recall of weather disasters in the places you grew up in? Do you remember story embellishments designed to fuel young imaginations?

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