Days Grow Longer

There were days I loved the snow, and the cold–no I don’t think I ever loved the cold–of winter. Of course, memory has this way of playing tricks with one’s mind; embellishing the not-so-glamorous parts, or darkening the somewhat ordinary moments.

As children, we waited at the door, like thoroughbreds at the gate, mere inches and moments from the freedom to bolt, while mom wrapped and tied itchy woollen scarves around our heads and over the hoods of our snowsuits. Temperature mattered not when fresh snowbanks awaited. Anticipation! Action!

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I still recall the blinding reflection of the sun on the snow as I stepped outside, which made me sneeze, and the first breath of cold air that tasted like the wool of my musty old scarf, which made me cough. My feet barely touched the front landing. In an instant, I found myself waist-deep in the fluffy stuff, thrashing about, struggling to hoist my small body to the surface, every move sending me a little deeper in the snow and further from the house. I always imagined this was what quicksands would feel like… just worse.

Eventually, the scarf loosens, exposing cheeks and nose to the biting wind. On we played… I don’t think we talked much when playing in the snow, only screamed, and laughed, and cried, but mostly screamed. The snow on our faces melted and mixed with what flowed from our runny noses, creating this ever-present salty taste on our lips; the once warm and comforting scarf on our mouth now icy, heavy and inconvenient.

The fun and games would continue until our toes or fingers got too cold, or mom called us in. Usually the latter. Mom always seemed to know when it was time. The frosty adventure lasted maybe an hour, just as the pain and tingling of our thawing appendages would. Scarves, mittens, toques, and boots were put to dry during that time. Lunch and hot chocolate were followed by a nap before everything began again until such a time when the children grew up.

Thr167039_128709693860310_4445209_nashing about in the snow–although at times still entertaining–eventually took a back seat to hockey: street hockey, pond hockey, and skating. Bright winter days when dad was home were the best. On those days, I considered my dad a kid, just like us. “Do you kids want to…” Yes! We never let him finish; we knew he meant to take us skating on the ponds by the track behind his Esso service station. He would load the snowblower in the back of his “petit bus” (what we called my dad’s steel blue Ford van). He also loaded a few shovels, our hockey sticks and a good supply of hockey pucks. If you’ve played pond or street hockey, you know that pucks seemed to vanish once they left the playing surface and entered the snow.

Those days are gone. I still enjoy bright sunshine on white fluffy snow, yet I think of winter as mostly a succession of long nights and short cold days, only interrupted by brief moments of activity (sometimes excitement) when the courage to step outside outweighs the inertia of hibernation. Winter is the assailant that knocks me down, and instead of fighting back, I turtle, I roll into a ball, waiting for the beating to end or to finish me for good. Every once in a while I lash back at the frigid season, only managing to touch innocent bystanders. Snap out of it! Go outside! Get some fresh air!

Days grow longer; the sun’s rays warmer. Just in time. Always. Thankfully.

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To blog, or not to blog

That is the question.

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You see, I started this blog more than six months ago already, on July 10th, 2015. The main purpose for my blog, initially, was to bring my book, Dancing Gabe: One Step At A Time, to the blogosphere and tell you about it… about Gabe… and about me. I think the blog achieved the purpose.

Once the book was out, then a new purpose was added: to tell you about the book’s events–46 book signing events and 23 media interviews in four months–and performance, using photographs, videos, articles, and interviews. Once again, I think the blog achieved the purpose.

But now that the excitement has abated after the Christmas rush, and my ” book” calendar seems rather uninteresting–compared to its first four months–I am at a crossroads once again, as I was when I wrote my first blog posts. Of course, that is not to say that my passion and enthusiasm for Dancing Gabe has waned, far from it, and I will continue to post about book events. But now, what?

I’ve visited hundreds of blogs since my first blog post, curious to learn what you write about, maybe to see if I could follow your examples. Wow! So much talent, creativity, imagination, and inspiration out there. Congratulations! All of them rather intimidating for a rookie blogger. But also most inspiring.

So, I’ve decided “to blog.” My goal is simple: one post a week. The challenge it seems: “What to blog about?” But it’s only a challenge because of wondering what you–the potential reader–want to read about. Taken from my perspective–the blogger–things become much simpler, clearer. I’ve filled notebooks with musings, haikus, reflections, and snapped photographs for many years. I will continue to do so. I’ve also started a novel (before writing Dancing Gabe), which I’ve revisited recently with the aim of completing it. I’m also an avid reader. I’m a musician too (well, I try). I’ll blog about that and about life in general. The purpose: feel good about it, and hopefully provide words and photos that may inspire.

Fog clears slowly
Thoughts emerge, finally…
As they do every January
From this deep darkness
Cold, lonely hibernation
Usual, expected
Heavy blanket wrapped tightly
Constricting, stifling.
Breathe again, smile
Laugh again, sing
Love again, live.

 

Thank You Scotiabank!

I wanted to recognize the support we received from Scotiabank for Dancing Gabe: One Step At A Time. With permission, I am posting the text from an email I sent to Scott Bollman, Winnipeg District Banking Manager.

Hello Scott,
Happy New Year to you and yours!

I wanted to send a short note of thanks to you for your initiative and enthusiastic support of the Dancing Gabe: One Step At A Time project. Scotiabank was unique in its approach and definitely most effective. Your branches sold a total of 305 books and participated in the sales of a total of 966 books. Effectively, your support generated $6.00 of donations for each of these books, totalling $5,796.00 shared equally among the Jets True North Foundation, the Goldeyes Field of Dreams Foundation, and the Blue Bombers commitment to anti-bullying initiative for young people in Manitoba. This is simply amazing and speaks volume about your people, your organization, and their commitment to the community.

I want to highlight Susan Robert’s contribution to the project and her leadership throughout these four special months. As well, my special thanks and appreciation go to Trish Moeller for her tireless efforts, enthusiasm, and dedication—she made a huge difference! And to Pennee Kroeker for keeping track of all the numbers and helping out at the book release party.

It has been my distinct pleasure to meet the members of your team and to work side by side with everyone along the way, whether at book signing events or during my interactions with the various branches. Please accept my thanks and my gratitude. And to think that all this started from a simple coincidence encounter, on a 6:00am morning walk in July… AMAZING! (You’ll have to ask Susan about this one.)

Sincerely,
Dan
January 12, 2016

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The book’s cover. Photo by Mike Sudoma.

#6 Bestseller for 2015: DANCING GABE!

Well, how about that!
Dancing Gabe: One Step At A Time at #6 of the McNally Robinson’s Bestsellers List of 2015 for Manitoba Non-fiction books.
We’re very proud and honoured to be in the company of such great books and authors.
Thank you Dancing Gabe fans for putting us there!
Thank you Dancing Gabe for your truly inspiring and touching story.
We couldn’t have done it without you.

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McNally Robinson Booksellers’ Bestsellers List for 2015