It was 40 degrees below zero in the tiny hamlet of Mirror, Alberta. Heavy snow blocked the view of our new home, a 2-room tar paper shack. It stood behind the church where my father felt 'called' to serve God. A faithful group of immigrant farmers and townspeople would come to worship with us there - sometimes bearing a sack of potatoes or a leg of lamb instead of a monetary offering.
That first day I huddled in the back seat of our Model A Ford - afraid to step into our new barren life away from the comforts of the city. But mother was devoted and determined to make the best of it. Little did I know that my young life as a preacher's daughter would require a standard of conduct quite unnatural to my nature!
Starting grade one at school I felt lost among the other children who spoke mostly German or Ukranian or Italian. I was scared on the way home from school where the older boys thought it was fun to toss the little kids into the deep snow filled ditches. I remember struggling to breathe as the freezing snow clumped down on my face.
Mirror was the first of three tiny towns where Daddy preached and Mother played the piano in our churches. I endured 3 services every Sunday - squirming and tittering in the pews with a little friend until, one time, Daddy paused in the middle of his sermon and glared me into silence.
In spite of a huge blizzard that first year folks hitched up their teams and came to church for the special Christmas service. Daddy read the Christmas story in his rich, deep Scottish accent. And I piped out a little solo, Once in Royal David's City.
I remember playing in the snow by myself. Loving the white blue silence and the everlasting sky. We didn't do Christmas trees, or presents in those years. But we did sing a lot and sometimes visited farm homes for huge traditional feasts. Those big warm-hearted families puzzled me. The kids could fight and yell and ten minutes later be hugging and laughing! In our wee parsonage, of course, we did not fight or raise our voices. As an only child I didn't learn how to relate easily and boistrously - a skill most useful!
That was 75 years ago -
To this day I long for the clarity and beauty of snow -
And sometimes miss the wide, flat, endless expanse of the prairies.