In northern Manitoba, winter's embrace is long, tight, and bone-chilling. Having shown how a typical southern Manitoba winter looked in the 1970s yesterday, here's an equally frigid image of Thompson, several hundred kilometres northeast of Virden. That's our backyard, buried in snow, with a huge drift looming off the roof's edge, ready to collapse. Dad managed the local Acklands branch, supplying the commercial and industrial automotive industry. Cold winters generally meant good business.
Here I am all bundled up for some forgotten excursion. I was a preschooler at the time, so at least I didn't have to walk to school in weather like this. (In fact, we moved further north, to Leaf Rapids, so I wound up walking to school in even worse weather.)
Despite the cold, I retain warm memories of northern Manitoba. In the summertime, the snow warmed enough to make snowmen. All right, so it was probably late spring. Still, note that the snowman's ears are made of snapdragons in full bloom. Note also the lush lawn peeking through the snow. Winter could hit during any month of the year, save perhaps June and July. Maybe. It was from this backyard that the kids next door stole my big beautiful Tonka dump truck, or at least that's what the clues seemed to indicate. Dad valiantly tried to retrieve it, but we couldn't prove the theft. I was pretty incensed by the injustice.
In compensation, Manitoba is beautiful in the summertime. Here's how our house looked during those elusive weeks. I sat on that very stoop, perhaps even in the same pair of pajamas, the day Mom and Dad set the breakfast bacon on fire. As soon as I became aware of the blaze, I retrieved my most prized possession: a suitcase full of toy cars, a prize Dad won from McQuay-Norris, a manufacturer of engines and steering parts for automobiles. Suitcase in hand, I evaded the billowing smoke and sat on the front step, playing with my cars while waiting for the fire department to arrive.
The firemen arrived minutes later, snuffing out the blaze with dry ice fire extinguishers. Damage was minimal (the insurance company simply paid Mom to scrub the smoke damage off the walls), but the firemen had to place a huge fan on the front step to suck the smoke out. According to my parents, I was completely unfazed during the whole affair. Ah, the serenity of childhood.