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I suddenly found myself with my backside buried in snow. I was staring at my skis and boots in front of my face. Tessi was looking down at me. "Now what?" she seemed to be asking. We had just had our first major snowfall of the season and a ridge of snow blocked access to the bay from the marsh. Silly me, I thought I'd climb, while on my skis, over the barrier. I'm not a talented skier and immediately fell backwards into the mix of grass and snow. Since I wasn't hurt, I videotaped my predicament for a laugh later. Tessi patiently waited; thankfully, she didn't wander off. I faced a moment of panic when I realized my hands couldn't find leverage to push myself out of the deep powder below me. The ski poles came to the rescue. That happened a couple years ago. Winter has once again arrived in our small community off Rondeau Bay. It's time to dig my cross country skis out, not of the snow, but out of the closet. A sufficient amount of flakes has fallen to blanket the land. Previously, we've been only able to walk. Though my experience on the long narrow blades is little, I enjoy the exercise and the freedom over the deep snow they give me. Snowmobiles and ATV's dash throughout the community, cut paths through the marsh and crisscross the bay, where they head for or skim around fishing shacks dotted in the distance. Rondeau Bay is a popular place for ice fishing. I'm grateful for the people who clear the pathways, whether they do it for fun or to create routes to reach their fall hunting spots and winter fishing holes - I imagine it's a little of each. The pathways offer endless places to explore as we head to the bay. On my way through, I pass by short shrubby grass, lots and lots of cattails and through reeds so high their feathery tops wave in the breeze way over my head, making me feel like I'm cocooned in a tunnel. Once we approach the marsh's edge, Tessi runs ahead and bursts onto the icy bay. She heads out to hunt in one of the nearby dirt mounds pushed up through the ice. Sometimes I follow her out, but this time I call her back as I follow the shoreline. She returns to delve into the terrain there in the hopes of finding small creatures. On and off, I catch the jingle of her collar tags, so I know she's near. While on the bay, I look around as I absorb the silence. It's peace in almost its purest form, matching the gentle flakes as they lightly fall and settle. Brown grasses filling one side of the bay are the only contrast in the flawless white. I appreciate the panorama I observe from where I stand, knowing it's an area off limits in the warmer weather, when ice slowly melts back to water - I don't have a canoe or kayak. I feel privileged to take part in a world not normally accessible in our daily walks, when we're limited to the village streets. Soon the chilly days will gradually warm up. Rain will bring plenty of water to soak the marsh and its wetland plants. They will grow and claim the space we borrowed, filling it all in, leaving no trace of trodden pathways made. Tessi and I, along with others, will leave it in peace until the air starts to turn cold and freezes the remaining water and ground once again. For Further Reading

(c) Cheryl Smyth, 2011

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