Chocolate brown galoshes; sparkling silver buckles. Ugly as sin and as much a part of my Canadian winters as snow as high as the sky. At least that’s the height it appeared in my 8 year-old eyes.
I remember my house on Granlea Road, not so much for the house itself, but the outdoor adventures it offered.
The concrete steps were encased by swirly twirly wrought iron handrails. These were intended, I suppose, to barricade us off from the tall cedars that provided excellent hiding places for my games of hide-and-seek, and berry mashing pie making. Or maybe wrought iron was just the style of the day.
I remember layering on warm winter clothes, mitts, and hat, only to be faced with the sweat-inducing task of buckling those oh-so-ugly galoshes. You had to pull strongly and smoothly on the galosh strap, extend its clasp past the point of no return, then allow the clasp to retract back into the shiny buckle. No mean feat, especially with layers of wool between belly and boot.
After several tries the galoshes would be on, their lambs wool liners peeking out the top, their sensible rounded toes ready for the snow.
I’d venture out the front door and immediately climb over the wrought iron railing, to drop with a plop to the ground. Here, in the untouched snow in the garden, surrounded by cedar and juniper, I was in another world. My own world. The smell of cedar was heavenly, and the little blue juniper berries on the lower bushes provided plenty for picking. Picking for what reason I don’t know. I just used to love collecting those rock-hard, pint-sized berries.
Looking out from between the bushes the snow did indeed appear as high as the sky. There was something magical and safe and special about this place. And despite the frigid temperatures and falling snow, it never seemed cold in this magical place.
My favourite “galoshes moment” occurred just before spring, when the temperature was cold enough to create ice, preceded by balmier weather that had created puddles. The puddles would have a paper thin coating of clear ice: delicate, beautiful and temptingly crackable. With the toe of my boot I would nudge the ice edge until audible cracks of slivers of ice splintered into jagged pieces that floated to the top of the puddle. Those jagged pieces of pristine ice were like treasures to me. I could create my own little piece of unique sculpture, just like a snowflake: each one different, each one fleetingly existent.
There was a breathtaking power and satisfaction to be gained from the ice-splintering exercise. The image of that ugly old galosh, with the sun glinting off its magnificent buckle, delicately cracking the precious ice…it’s a memory that has stayed with me always. It’s a forever memory.
Do you have a forever memory?
Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe to get more like it delivered to your inbox.