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A Walk in the Snow at Christmas

Derrick Coyle

“It’s been nearly thirty-two years since Trudeau’s famed walk in the snow,” he offered gratuitously, over the squeaky-dry crunch of boots on Rice Krispies as they veered onto a winter trail cutting circuitously through a neighbourhood park.

She tightened her scarf against a sudden swirl of heat-seeking snow. “With the honeymoon phase in the rearview and a road full of hairpin turns and potholes ahead, Senior’s firstborn is probably doing a little winter soul-searching of his own,” she said, words wrapped in a billowing plume of vapour.


After several peaceful meters of pensive silence, he mused aloud, “It’s hard to fathom a level of collective despair that produces such ferocious appetite for change that change, of any sort, supersedes the substance of the change itself.

“Say what?”

“I mean, how can an electorate be so disenchanted, that it will excuse a candidate’s repeated demonstrations of racism, misogyny, narcissism, and shameless deception, all on the dubious claim he will deliver a better deal. Let’s face it, the guy’s a d—”


“Well, I was gonna say demagogue … but there is something reminiscently apropos in your reference.”

She jigged nimbly around a large chunk of snow in her path, and laughed. “We’ve moved south from the Trudeau family, I see.”

Stopping for a moment, he scooped a handful of fresh snow and worked it into a tight orb. Taking dead aim, he hurled the projectile hopelessly short and left of a playground signpost standing in unscathed defiance, twenty meters away. Clapping snow from his winter gloves, he broke into a leisurely trot and rejoined his wife. His playful grin was greeted by a pitying shake of the head. “The arm’s not what it used to be,” he explained.


“A campaign that exploits vulnerabilities and prejudices will always be unpredictable,” he resumed. “It incites a frenzy of passionate myopia and interferes with the natural order of objective examination. I wonder how many abstainers and reluctant supporters—in the clarity of hindsight—are suffering voter remorse. You know, like waking up and reading your drunken text from the night before.”

She shot him a quizzical look. “Holding your nose as you cast it makes it no less of a vote. And maybe it’s not that way at all. Maybe the economic pain runs deeper than you think, and his popularity is increasing as he talks of jobs saved and costs cut at every stop on his cross-country ‘thank you tour.’ The stock market doesn’t seem to have a problem with him.”

“We’ll probably never know the truth of it—as elusive a concept as that has been—but it would be easier to believe if he wasn’t poking capricious world powers with pointed sticks and ravaging the stock value of each job-producing employer he slags—in 140 characters or less.”

“The reality is we don’t get a say in who our neighbour picks to run their country,” she said soberly, “Like it or not, there isn’t much we can do about it … and for your own sanity you may want to reconsider who you follow on Twitter.”


“Let’s talk about some good news from 2016,” she said, smile returning. “Like the arrival of our second beautiful grandson, first child to our youngest daughter, and born on her birthday; and come April, I finally get my own taste of that sweet retirement deal you’ve been tapping into for almost four years!”

After a timely distraction of fluttering birds in a distant bush, he finally replied, “You’re quite right, hun, it’s amazing how a little time spent with grandchildren makes you forget about all the other stuff. We’re truly blessed to be present in the lives of both; not everyone gets that chance. It was special to bond with the oldest, when I looked after him for a few months. Speaking of bonding, look at all the visits among Scottish and Canadian family since our trip a couple of years ago—the joy of cousinhood transcending time and distance.”


“Don’t forget, you also got to see another hole-in-one.”

Oh, I’ll never forget that; the second ace … by the same buddy … at the same golf course … on the same hole. What are the odds?”

“See, not all doom and gloom,” she said with a wink.

“You’re right, you know it was heartwarming to meet that Syrian family earlier this year. I’ll always remember sitting down with them for a coffee and chat at their new, Canadian home when I dropped off the clothing. The parents were so grateful and it was nice to see their children smiling after the horrors this family has known. I have deep admiration for my old elementary school classmate and her church group, for the sponsorship and acts of kindness they’ve shown this lovely family.”


Arriving back at their snow-cleared driveway after the two kilometer hike, they kicked snow from their boots and headed to the front path. “It has been a good year,” she said. “My wish is that our family and friends have a happy and healthy 2017.

“Totally agree, and peaceful,” he said, pushing the front door open and stepping aside to let her pass.

“And, the only new year’s prediction I’ll make, this time, is that the Toronto Maple Leafs will win their first Stanley Cup in 50 years,” he said jubilantly.

“And what makes you say that?” she said, brow arching.

“Well, in last year’s Christmas post, I gave the Leafs as much chance of a winning season as Trump had of becoming President—”

“Somehow the Leafs’ odds just seem a lot better now.”


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