Dreaming of a White (And Green) Christmas

My vision of Christmas in Fernie is an apparition of white and green. More than a manifestation of colour, Christmas is a tradition steeped in images, sounds and mixed emotions. The cold clarity of virgin snow can purify our thoughts and transform our thinking to live more in harmony with nature.

In preparation for Christmas 2010 I encourage you to step away from the malls onto fluffy powder. Forget the excess of overindulgence and enjoy the simple pleasure of family and friends outside. Stop the worry about the perfect party dress and invest in clothing that keeps you warm and dry playing in the backyard building snow forts with your kids. This holiday season is a perfect time to balance our well-being back in tune with nature.

Imagine deep white fields of powder broken up by majestic conifers, their green branches bowing to the ground heavy with snow. Listen to the laughing voices gliding across the opaque ice scraped off at the Annex pond by enthusiastic skaters bundled up in puffy olive down parkas.

Beneath the chairlift, skiers hoot and holler, dodging spruce trees, their voices muffled by flying crystals. Hanging off the ski hill arboreal sculptures, chartreuse wolf lichen are iced with new fallen snow. Conversation during the daily foray to Overwaitea makes me envy the powder pitches that were passed up to clean house for arriving guests.

When the first flakes fly motivation accelerates to decorate for the holiday season. No need for fake boughs and berries or spray cans of white sticky pellets. Before a white blanket covers the ground, head out to collect aromatic cedar boughs, red osier dogwood, holly-like Oregon grape and gigantic Ponderosa pine cones. While collecting notice the beauty of nature as it prepares for dormancy. Formed leaves and flowers are protected beneath swollen buds waiting for the return of increased daylight and warm sun. Remember to collect plants sparingly from here and there so they can recover next year.

Soon my family will gather the ladder, saw and ropes for our annual Christmas tree expedition. My husband ascends on a long silver aluminum ladder and cuts off the top of a tall, dark green balsam fir. Leaving the tree alive, it chooses a new leader the following summer. But I have to warn you, aspiring for a ‘green’ Christmas tree is an extreme sport.

Reading the US National Weather Service prediction that La Nina will result in above average precipitation in our region, the buzz around town is hopeful of an early, deep, extended winter. The best gift this season would be the return of the ‘good ole days’ revealing the truth that lures residents to live in Fernie.

December at FAR is almost exclusively season pass holding locals. It is the time of year to connect with friends on our secret powder stashes. But to be a local, never miss the last day before the crowds arrive. Christmas day we have the hill to ourselves. Early risers rip through their stockings and gifts, most of which are goggles, avalanche transceivers and ski socks, and head for the hill. Helmets adorned with reindeer antlers, people in Santa hats pass out candy canes and there are lots of merry hugs.

All I want for Christmas is an old-fashioned Fernie winter. I see wave-like pillows hanging below house eaves and tunnels shoveled to the front door of quaint miner-like cabins. High snow banks with slides polished by children’s snow pants. Stories shared of stuffed nostrils with Fernie cold smoke.

My wish is that your holiday season is peaceful with tranquil experiences in nature across white fields that deep, crisp and even. May the contrasting white snow interrupted by the green of nature focus your attention of what really matters this Christmas.