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Various Veins

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Ross Andrews - Various Veins

Talk about snow! Buffalo New York was buried under the white stuff to record depths last week. One man was found dead in a car under fifteen feet of snow.

Do you remember the finding of a woolly mammoth frozen in a standing position in the Arctic some years ago? The beast suffered the same end as the human in Buffalo. Both were waiting out a storm. So far we have been lucky that the lake effect ends when the water freezes. It's my expectation that when the Arctic Ocean becomes too warm to freeze, the lake effect will bring on another ice age. All the squabbling over borders will end. Is that the peace we keep praying for?

Somebody said, "Be careful what you wish for..."

In the 1930s, when I was a toddler, I'd be shivering in my bed with a skiff of snow on the blankets listening to Dad Bowes farting his way downstairs before sun up to stoke the furnace. Then he'd put on his sweater, smock, boots, hat, mitts and go out to shovel a path through deep snow to the barn. It would be wide enough to carry milk buckets and parts for the cream separator to the milk house and beyond to the cow stable door.

In those days his mother, I called her Aunt Bertha, and his wife, Aunt Ermina, would follow him to the barn to milk the Holstein cows. I guess I tagged along to watch the show and drink some hot milk from my green granite cup. After Gretta was born and old enough to walk we both ventured out. Her cup was silver and smaller than mine.

Gretta's arrival created a change in the household. Aunt Ermina was my mother's sister, entrusted to take care of me by my father while my mother was in hospital. Vilo never recovered from post partum depression.

A family conference examined how to avoid confusing the little daughter as she gained vocabulary and wondered why her parents were uncle and aunt to me, but daddy and momma to her. It was decided I should call them Dad and Mom. Aunt Bertha continued in that role for me and Grandma Bowes to Gretta.

With that out of the way, let's get back to snow.

As I grew in body I took over the shovelling and some of the milking chores. By then the farm had morphed from general to tobacco farming. The reduced herd, Jerseys, didn't produce enough milk to be separated into skim milk to be fed to hogs and cream to be trucked to Tillsonburg to be made into butter. This freed the women from the daily chore of washing the many parts of the separator and lugging them to the milk house.

They were also freed of milking cows and could use the time to prepare breakfast. In snowy weather hot cereal, oatmeal or cream of wheat, maybe Dr. Jackson's Roman Meal. Fried eggs, bacon, potato patties, toast were a constant, summer and winter. The patties were made of mashed potatoes left over from supper with some chopped onions added in.

Today, being in my second childhood I'm afraid, I'm daily reminded of Dad Bowes as I descend the stairs, my digestive tract rudely announcing every step.

I glance out the kitchen window as I sog some All Bran, a daily necessity to keep pipes clean as Bill Shatner reminds us, and count myself lucky. No need to risk a heart attack. My generous neighbour, Brian, has cleared my walk and driveway with his quad. He refuses reward, says he's just having fun.

My nephew, Brad, scouts the village with his truck and blade clearing drives for seniors. At times Brian and Brad do a waltz at my driveway.

Snow adds to the inconvenience of following detours to reach Tillsonburg while the construction of the traffic circle creeps to completion. Indeed, it adds danger if we don't slow down. Easy to skid right across an intersection or slide into a ditch.

We in the south will have a new status when the job's done. Why? Because blessed are they who go around in circles, for they shall be called big wheels.

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