Some things just seem “meant to be.”
And sometimes we seek the things we lose, the things that are most precious to us ….
On Saturday night, a week ago, Jess and I returned from a hard day of recreation and exercise in the Gatineaus. I spent 3.5 hours cross-country skiing during which time I traveled 33 km in the cold, -14ºC, weather. We returned home, invigorated and tired and we knew our metabolisms would soon kick in and demand paleolithic food … energy, protein, and something big to fill the holes. “How about an early date-night dinner?” I suggested. “Steak and Caesar salad?”
After a rejuvenating bath of Epsom salts, we got dressed in our comfy clothes and I set out to make dinner. I cleared off the 15cm of snow from the day before from the upper part of the deck, cleared the snow and ice from the BBQ, and gently peeled the BBQ cover from the stainless steel to which it had found frozen purchase, and left it tethered on the left edge of the cart to which is was totally frozen. It is, simply, “what you have to do” if you want to eat BBQ in Ottawa in February … and as a committed four-season grillman, I simply do what I have to do. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t relish setting up the grill at minus 15 and doing steaks in the icy dark, but love and hunger is a powerful motivator. And 15 minutes later, the grill was ready, and after a high-heat 3 minutes per side, the 6 ounce fillets came off a perfect medium-rare and our bodies breathed sighs of relief as the energy flowed back into our bodies.
Finished, we took a break from our movie and I went back outdoors to re-cover the BBQ in anticipation of the 20-30 cm of snow that was supposed to start Sunday afternoon. I jostled the cover back in place and then, following my boy scout instincts and thinking the ice would have thawed a bit from the heat of the BBQ, I grabbed a piece of the ice that was firmly frozen on the left side of the cover which had made it impossible to fully remove earlier. I peeled it off in one piece and threw it over the edge. My hands, wet and cold with the ice upon them, I swung to the ground to flick the water from my frozen fingers.
I could feel it happen. I felt it loosen and tried to curl my finger even as my hand was in full motion to flick, but the weight and force was too much and all I could hear was a single, dull …
Then nothing. Not another sound. Nothing.
I looked at my left hand to confirm.
My wedding ring placed there almost 6 months to the day earlier, was gone.
The weight of the platinum, the ice coldness shrinking my fingers, and the dehydration of the exercise making them even smaller, the ring really didn’t stand a chance, and with a single bound, it disappeared into the fresh snow and sunk from sight. Where, I knew not. With no trailing sound, I had no idea what direction it had bounced.
I went and got the flashlight and I searched for any imperfection in the soft blanket of snow. I scanned for meters in all directions and found only half a dozen spots, mostly from where I’d previous cleared the snow. I dug my hands into each hole and came up empty and cold. Over and over again I dipped and pulled, like a spring robin searching the ground for precious food, and each time, I stood up still starving. I walked the whole deck, I peered under the BBQ, over the edges; everywhere, nothing. I got a snow shovel and started throwing all the snow of the deck into the air, waiting for the heaviness of the ring to fall fast from the clouds of snow as Jess held the flashlight for me. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
I stood and stared, dejected and lost, over the expanse of the deck and the snow. It was lost out there … somewhere.
Worse, there was more snow coming the next day and so my only hope was going to be spring and hoping I — not a crow or a curious neighbour — would find it laying there for my finger again. And so I sat back in quiet, pained acceptance, prepared to phone the insurance company on Monday morning to report it lost yet not make a full claim until spring when I verified I wouldn’t be able to find it.
And so the snow came on Sunday and through most of Monday. Almost 30 cm fell. More came on Tuesday, Valentine’s night. More again on Wednesday. Probably 18-inches before it was all done. By the time the snow finished, this is what we saw out of back deck. I couldn’t tell where the ground ended and the deck started and there was almost 3 feet of snow on the deck now.
And at the same time, I started coming down with a cold and I just looked outside each day and sighed but eyeing the forecast which increasingly was getting warmer … suddenly warmer, with highs of near 8ºC and 6ºC forecast for Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday, I went onto the deck and cleared snow from the BBQ landing and cut a path around the steps so that I could get to the window wells and dig them out in anticipation of the big melt that would soon be coming. Exhausted, still fighting my cold, I came back inside. Worked hard at relaxing to gain some strength before we went out Saturday night to hear Harry Manx play at the National Arts Centre.
And so it was, Sunday morning, the day before Family Day here in Ontario, after we shared our ritual coffee, I stared out through the patio doors at the melting and retreating snow and said wishfully to Jess, “You know, I just keep thinking, I’m going to look out there and see my ring; just sitting there, through the melting snow.”
Not really expecting to see anything, still, I went outside, walked to the edge of the landing, scanned the surface of the snow and saw in fact, nothing, nothing except the wasting of our snowmen. I turned back to the house and took a few steps to the door, and I looked back again, but down this time. Down at the path I had cleared the day before and which had retreated another few inches with yesterday’s thaw.
I called Jess and said, “Come here. Look.” And I pointed “Down there ….”
Hand in Hand. Hand on Heart. Heart in Heart … Forever in Yours.
All text and photography © Dale Schierbeck
See more of others’ submissions to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge on “Against the Odds.”