The winter landscape of my childhood

snowmobile tracks

This scene – blue sky, snow-covered fields pristine except for the snowmobile tracks – is, oddly, considerably less common than it was in my rural childhood. Or, given the cost of fuel, maybe it’s not so odd.

Apparently this winter isn’t ever going to end. We’re into March and it’s still -26C or so more often than not when I get into my car to drive to work in the morning. But I have found a little tiny bright side to the endless cold and snow: the snowmobilers have come out at last.

Now, by this I do not mean the snowmobilers who do what snowmobilers seem to do in 2014, which is stick to snowmobile trails and – well, whatever they do on those trails. Stop for lunch in the nearest town? No, I mean what snowmobilers used to do in my childhood here at the Manse in Queensborough, when snowmobiles were a pretty new thing and gas was cheaper than cheap. Which was, get out onto a farm field and go around and around and around and around.

In my childhood here in this house where I now sit, if you opened the front door on a winter night like tonight, the air around Queensborough would be filled with the buzzing sound of snowmobiles. People would be roaring up and down the streets of our village on them, and of course they would also be off in the not-so-distant fields. Going around and around and around and around.

As I’ve written before (here, in a post about how kids on the school bus used to argue about the respective merits of their families’ “snow machines”), my family was pretty much the only one around that didn’t have one. So friends and neighbours would invite us over for a ride. And we would climb on the back and go around and around and around and around.

I have to admit I never saw the point.

Today, perhaps because snowmobiles have lost their novelty, and perhaps even more because fuel is so all-fired expensive, the pointless (oh, did I say that?) riding around the fields is not very common. Where once upon a time you never saw a farm field in winter without snowmobile tracks all over it, now it’s a little rare.

But I think the endless winter is driving snowmobile-owning folks to the point where they have to do something to liven things up. At least, that was my guess on one recent bright -26C morning as I spotted these tracks in the previously unmarked snow.

It made me smile at some long ago wintry memories. And curse this long winter just a little bit less.

2 thoughts on “The winter landscape of my childhood

  1. Dr. K says:
    Hmm..Gas was so cheap? I suspect that the buzz you heard was a lot to do with fascination with a new toy. With too much time on my hands, I have been looking at average wages etc on the internet. Here is a calculation for you as to the cost of fuel. At average (from StatsCan) wages in 1970 and 2014. we could buy 8.8 L of gas with an hours wage. In early 2014 we can buy 26.9 L with an hours work. Kinda makes me think when I bitch about fuel prices!

    • That is extremely interesting, gng – I’m glad you went to the trouble of doing that analysis. I’m kind of shocked by the results, and I bet a lot of others are too. You’re right when you suggest that maybe we should think twice before complaining about gas prices!

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