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Gill has been frustrated for a few years with the lack of snow here over the Christmas holidays. Living in Britain, she often waxes poetic about the cold, snowy winters of Canada. She is referring largely to the winters of her childhood before global warming changed things a bit. She recalls snowdrifts (from shoveling and snowplows) of gigantic proportions in which she, Crazy D and L’il Sis dug tunnels and made forts. In her mind now, allowing for inflation, those drifts were 12 feet tall. In actual fact, they were probably 6 feet high. But still, to a Brit, bloody impressive and more than adequate proof of the legendary miserable Canadian winters. I’m not saying she embellishes to make  her survival all those years seem more impressive, but…

So, early in December, she announced her hope that this year would see a white Christmas and voiced her demand that she be able to go showshoeing with Crazy D. They had planned this outing several times over the past couple of years — only to be thwarted by the mild weather and lack of snow. “Oh, I wouldn’t hold out much hope, dear. The green grass is still with us and I don’t think there’s snow in the forecast.” Of course, the moment I uttered those fateful words, down came the snow. And  it came…and came. By the time she arrived, my deck was covered in at least a foot of snow and my daily trips to the bird feeders were like Nanook of the North crossing the frozen tundra in tall mukluks, heavy jacket and mittens so fat it’s nearly impossible to lift the lids to pour in the seed. Gill was ecstatic, despite my trials.

A snowshoeing adventure with Crazy D was planned. “Great!”Gill enthused. I’ve got my Birkenclogs at the ready.”

“Your what now?”

“My Birkenclogs…I use them as winter boots.”

“No! I absolutely refuse to take you snowshoeing without proper boots!”

“But, but…”

“No fucking way! You wear boots or the trip is off. “That’s suicide!”

I piped up helpfully: “Maybe his girlfriend has a suitable pair of boots you can borrow.”

Gill gave me a look that said “stay out of this, you traitor’ but agreed reluctantly.

Crazy D arrived with the boots. Gill took one look at the sturdy, all-business, never-used boots and winced. “They don’t look very comfortable,” she ventured.

Crazy D corrected her:”You aren’t aiming for comfort. You’re aiming for survival. Besides, these are the best boots on the market. You’ll be fine once you get used to them.”

Gill, ever skeptical, muttered: “They’re not Birkenclogs, though, are they? They’re the only things I wear on my feet and THEY’RE comfortable.”

“Well, let me put it this way. I’m not taking you anywhere near my favorite Adventure supply store, where we have to rent snowshoes, where all the clerks know me, wearing those stupid clogs. I’d be humiliated. They’d laugh at me and refuse to let me in the store from hereon out.I have a reputation to consider.”

Subdued, Gill gave in. As she clomped out of the store, She looked not unlike a robot, clunking along without bending her knees, uncomfortable in the rigid, practical boots, snowshoes under her arm, she was beginning to think better of this whole adventure. But she perked up considerable when Crazy D announced that he had brought provisions in the form of a thermos of hot chocolate.

By all accounts, they had a wonderful trek. Gill came home extolling the wonders of the forest walk — the overpowering quiet of a forest covered in a blanket of snow, the only thing breaking the silence  the chickadees singing their chipper ‘dee, dee, dee’song. The brilliant sun on the snow, revealing the sparkles, made her day. “Boy, this beats a rainy, foggy, windy English winter,” she announced, pleased to have had her Canadian crews renewed and topped up. She could go back to England filled with stories of the ‘true Canadian north’ (even though we live in the southern part and have less severe winters than a lot of the U.S,). That in itself was reason enough for her trip here over Christmas. And right up there at the top of the ‘best things’ list was an outdoor adventure and time spent with her brother.