“Mom, can we get out our bikes?”
Well, it was -25 this morning, there’s ice everywhere and the bikes are covered in 3 feet of snow but “SURE!” I tell them. They are not the only ones excited that Spring has finally arrived.
Spring can be fickle in Saskatoon as residents know all too well. In March, the daylight hours creep longer and longer. The fluffy white stuff takes on a new coke slurpee-like appearance only to be covered anew with the fruits of the freak-but-inevitable late snowstorm. The temperatures slowly rise, even making their new year’s debut on the positive side… and then plummet back down to arctic ridiculousness. Every item of shoe swear–snow boots, rubbers and runners–every mismatched mitten, every jacket in the house, snow pants, splash pants, long-lost sunglasses and maybe even the occasional tube of sunscreen migrates to the entrance of family homes across the city giving the appearance that a multi-seasonal grenade has exploded. The season is exhilarating, disheartening, confusing. And you never know what the next day might bring, but you always know it’s Spring in Saskatoon… from the song inside your heart.
Nothing is too much effort if it means celebrating the return of the warmth to the sunlight. I tell myself this as I heft the tarp–half-frozen to the ground and weighted with pine needles, snow and winter guck–from the bikes and scooters. I portage them across the melty wasteland of our backyard never knowing if my foot will slip, find firm ground or plunge through into an ice-water abyss. With the van loaded up with our wheeled implements and helmets, I summon the kids from the far reaches of the block where they are busy breaking crispy ice with the neighbours. One quick change of soggy footwear, and we are on the road!
“Where are we going Mom?” My son is annoyed that I have interrupted his socializing.
“I thought you said you wanted to go biking.”
“Are you taking us to that place by the golf course?”
“Not again. MOM! No.” The chorus comes from the back of the van. Protest has been an integral part of every micro-interaction in our house for the better part of five years. I drive on, undeterred.
We arrive at our destination–the only dry place in the Greater Saskatoon Area at this time of year. It is a place I spotted some years back in 2014, the first Spring season after the Gordie Howe Bridge opened. I discovered it in large part thanks to my hawk-like vision and blind determination to get outside after 4 too many months of being cooped up with my orangutan-like offspring.
It is a pull-off of Malouf Rd leading to a particularly well-groomed piece of the Meewasin trail that runs between Holiday Park Golf Course and the Gordie Howe bridge in the South West Industrial Area of Saskatoon, possibly with views of an impound lot and some meat factories. Hey, I promised dry not scenic.
Long forgetting their objections, the kids grab their bikes and scooters, strap on their helmets and make tracks towards the river. Thanks to some miracle of nature and snow clearance, this particular section of trail is completely dry save the odd bit where a rogue trickle runs over–perfect the pre-season Spring roll + stroll outing we were looking for!
On this particular day, at the grand old temperature of +2, everyone still needs mitts and tuques but their whoops and screams leave no doubt that everyone’s thrilled to be back on wheels. For myself, on this day I choose to walk along behind to enjoy some P & Q, some spring-fresh air HOOOOOONNNKK (remember, this is beside the freeway) and sunshine TOOOOT (… and the train tracks). WHOOOOOSH. Whooosh. WHOOOOSH.
I don’t mind a bit. I’m in my happy place.
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