in the meanwhile …
there are many ways that a canadian celebrates the great outdoors during the white season. sliding down a slippery slop, across a frozen pond or mushing for children bundled in their sleigh to name a few. with every breath exhaled your rosy cheeks melt the snow flakes falling from the heavens. it’s a snow wonder time of the year.
nothing brings more fun memories than the apres ski shift at the mountain lodge. all the friends showing up one x one. briskly, brushing the snow from their shoulders onto your lap. pulling off the toque as quickly as you reach for your baseball cap from the snow encrusted daypack. toque head is promptly solved for now.
enter the girls. guys are momentarily silenced by their presence. we will complete the pour from the pitcher of beer after we are told what to do. she points to where they left the skis and poles. one of the guys volunteers to sort things outside while grabbing for his gloves. the girls continue at high volume brushing snow everywhere and throwing the jackets onto the chairs. systematically, they ask where the daypack is. we lift the daypack out from under their recently tossed jacket and hand it to them. chattering as they walk to the ladies room to freshen up (aka – girls version of putting on a baseball cap).
buddy, walks back to table after sorting the ski equipment out. one of the poles was laying on the snow between the lift house and ski rack. two separate skis had gouges on the bottom and where completely void of wax. the bindings had released prematurely earlier in day and will also have to be adjusted prior to tomorrow. resolving when to repair the skis, another buddy is placing the jackets over the chair backs, while another is wiping the melted snow from the table top. a yelp, indicates the arrival of the girls drinks followed by staff carrying the appetizers. eventually, the goggles and helmets are cleaned and put away. glove liners are removed to dry out. we place our small waterproof cameras onto table. while listening to the hockey score, we hear the sound of recognizable voices walking back to our table. we become silent again.
with a little food and warm beverages our attention turns to the snow flakes falling outside. the girls comment on the two lift operators whom are now clearing snow from the skating rink out front. staff are lighting the fire pit and opening the outdoor apres skate area. the girls wish they had brought their skates with them but they forgot to have them sharpened early in the week. buddy who went outside to sort skis early grabbed the skates from the vehicles and placed them under the table. one of the guys got the skates sharpened and packed them. with the elated joy of a child’s first day skating the girls grabbed the bags and ran outside into the snow flakes.
the hockey game ends with the girls going outside. one of the buddies stays back to pay the tab. the other guys grab the gear and places everything into the right daypack. we each receive the camera to put in our pocket to capture the moments under snow. lacing up the skates and swirling around to play catch the mouse with the girls. scarf towing around the ice and relaying from person to person. the aroma of spiced cider and bonfire entices a slow hand in hand glide to find a seat. eyelashes with snowflakes falling into the glass are quickly adsorbed while warming the hands. our crowd starts to gather around the lone guitar player.
we began to really enjoy our great friendship in canada’s snow wonder time. we start to sing along with our musician friend. buddies eventually take turns leading a song while the girls skate dance to the melody under the moonlight. we become preoccupied with ourselves and soon begin to swing around the ice keeping in rhythm to the magical sounds. slowly, the day and evening catches up to us. while we glide back to the bench, one buddy notices a staff clearing a spot with a shovel. excuse, sir – who was that guy playing guitar and singing to us. continuing with his shoveling he says – there wasn’t anybody here playing guitar or singing – you were the only people who were singing. insisting the stranger was sitting in the exact spot the staff was shoveling answered nothing.
we began our walk back to the village with all the ski gear in hand and daybacks full. the snow-covered bridge crossing over the mountain clear water is always worth the stop and listen. we noticed someone walking toward us through the snow flake lit path carrying a guitar.
hey, buddy says – i knew we weren’t crazy that is the guy who played the guitar and sang for us.
hey, other buddy says – you played great tonight.
guitar player says – i haven’t played tonight, i’m just walking over there now. hopefully, they have shoveled the spot for me to play at.
all girls chime in to say – we were just on the ice and someone was there playing for us while we skated and sang along.
guitar player responds – there used to be an older homeless man who would clear off the ice and play his guitar to skaters for tips. he disappeared long ago. maybe through the ice or he froze to death.
guitar player continues – so, the village folk have been taking turns going out to the same spot and shoveling it clear so we can continue the tradition. we ask for tips to go inside the salvation army kettle. (as he jingles it before us)
guitar guys continues, while walking into the darkness beyond the bridge – you must of heard the christmas angel sing, it’s snow wonder time … you know.