Community Stories

Looking Back - Writes of Winter

February 07, 2024

The Red Deer Arts Council and The City of Red Deer are pleased to announce the winners of the Writes of Winter contest!

We invited Red Deer writers of all ages to share with us a tale of winter and/or the holiday season in Red Deer, under either Poetry, Short Story (Fiction) or Short Story (Creative Non-Fiction) categories.

Winner - Creative Non-Fiction

“Looking Back” by Clara Spencer

My senses were so heightened that I couldn't even speak. She wouldn't have heard me anyways. My main thought was; "when will she look back?".  Crystalized snow pelted my face like it was a windshield. My balance was perfect. I would not budge. That county road was our icy playground on Sundays. Well, some Sundays since Woodwards was now open Sundays. Mom was the deli lady there.

The trike handled the terrain and its driver. That day Mom was part Desire Wilson and part Cruella de Ville. I trusted she was in control, yet she drove her Topaz completely differently throughout the streets of Red Deer. With her winter play clothes on and her toque stretching to the sky, she was the mastermind of this day. This day she tucked away her Avon catalogues and hit the open road with me in tow.

She still hasn't looked back. I wasn't crying yet; I just gripped the thin yellow rope like a bronc rider. I even let my snot sit on my upper lip; that’s commitment. I was statuesque on that light birch toy from Canadian Tire. The wood was thin except for the outlining edges which my thighs painfully pressed into. It was trike vs. toboggan, and I questioned if she even knew I was still her passenger.  

Gracefully the sun bowed below the tops of naked poplars and then the mercury also slipped. That late afternoon chill felt instant. Then it happened. She hit the ditch. That’s when she looked back; proud as a peacock. She must have thought she achieved at making my childhood extraordinary. Physical discomfort now trumped everything. Finally, she exited the ditch, and we took a big corner, toboggan swinging wide and slowing down. My grip painfully loosened. We came to a loud snow-crunching stop. Mom energetically hopped off and silence returned to the prairies and my brain. I regrouped. I dislodged the clunky Kamik's and rolled off of the toboggan. Then it got noisy again. Mom's laughter rang out all over Central Alberta. Then it was my turn to look back. It all came together when I saw the window through the bottom of the toboggan; a jagged hole the size of a softball. Sears snowpants were good but no match for thorny rosebushes or gravel roads.  

Gratefully, we were back in her Topaz. Mom eased her way downtown, then south on Gaetz. She pulled into DQ. Eating out for no good reason never happened. I didn’t ask questions and dined quietly in that booth, slippery snowpants and all. I loved redeeming those DQ tokens for ice cream. I savored my dessert on the road as we methodically made our way past Kin Canyon and turned into Sunnybrook, my familiar territory.

Today, the Collicutt stands proud where those days became my memories. I tell my kids; “this used to be farmland” but they’ll never really understand.  Those days were extraordinary.