We live about a ten minute walk away from the banks of the beautiful Swan River. At the end of October the temperature was already very cold but we had no idea how cold it really gets here. Our South African experience does not include -20 degrees Celsius or even colder temperatures. Going for a walk in these temperatures is a challenge in itself but trying to negotiate one’s way through thick snow and slippery ice adds another dimension to the outing. We have learnt to walk on crunchy snow rather than on slippery ice – it is safer. Although the snow only came after we had been here for almost two weeks, we did not have enough time to get fully oriented with the town, I still get horribly lost and there are few landmarks, which help me get my bearings. At least I now know my way from home to the church office and back! 😉
The church routine is very similar to ministry in South Africa but there are many differences. The services are very liturgical and although I do enjoy some liturgy, I hope to explore some more creative liturgies in the New Year. This will be a very different Christmas for us with ONLY a service on Christmas Eve (at 8:00pm) – no Christmas morning worship service. So, Kevin and I are going to the Anglicans down the road – they have a service at 11:00am. Many people are also away for Christmas and some do get visitors here in Swan River.
A trip to Winnipeg takes us about 6 to 7 hours – because of speed limits and comfort stops along the way. People routinely need to go to the city and this is a very different experience for us. Driving very long distances is an almost everyday undertaking for most Canadians. We are still looking for a suitable vehicle and are immensely grateful to a retired minister in our congregation who is loaning us a spare vehicle of theirs in the time being.
Items of clothing, which we had to acquire for winter, include thermal underwear, scarves, hats, gloves or mitts, warm socks and jackets/coats. Many Canadian people seem to have spare items in their closets so we have been very fortunate to receive warm jackets and gloves to assist us through this first winter, which is apparently rather cold already for this time of the year. We had been warned that January and February are really cold (descending to minus 40 degrees Celsius) but we have measured -35 already in December.
The snow is beautiful and I don’t think I could ever tire of its attraction. When the sun shines, which it often does in Manitoba, the snow glistens and sparkles and when it is really cold there are even sparkles in the air as the sun shines on the tiny icy particles. We look forward to the trees having hoar frost on them – watch out for my photos when it happens!