MULEMuch as I miss my loved ones, it’s nice spending Christmas with someone else’s family and experiencing all of their traditions. Jordy’s family puts on a European seafood feast every year on Christmas eve. Aside from the spectacular food, I love that the three days prior are spent mostly in the kitchen, shelling prawns, cleaning squid, preparing octopus and shucking oysters – for me joy really is in the making. I spent two hours at the sink on the 23rd, shelling prawns, smiling at the snow in the fields beyond and listening to Christmas carols with Jordy’s mother. It was a pretty lovely way to spend an afternoon. And since I love to bake, I put together a favourite strawberry cake the morning of Christmas eve, with a little help from Jordy and Bing Crosby. By the afternoon, once the cake was baked and the dishes done, Jordy insisted we get outside in the cold and have a little fun. And my goodness, we really did.

Jordy’s family have an enormous property outside of town where you can see for miles. Last summer his brother Jesse planted apple, pear, cherry and peach trees which thankfully look good, their second winter in. There is new ground set aside for a greenhouse and tractor shed, an icy creek and some very frosty dams at one end, and then nothing but fields of prairie grass and thick snow. It’s actually one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

RIDEAnd one of the best ways to see it, I have to say, is screaming around on the back of a four wheeler at 40 miles an hour. I squealed and laughed and clung on to Jordy’s back as my hands slowly froze up and my thighs raged against the cold wind rushing towards us. It was exhilarating and amazing and probably my new favourite pastime. They also have a thing called a ‘mule’, which is kind of like an off-road golf cart that seats up to five and can go on all terrains. Jesse raced it up hills and along the bank of the river, across patchy fields and through banks of trees, branches hitting the sides and snapping beneath the tough wheels. I was terrified and cold and couldn’t stop smiling.


WOOD SHEDI thought the snow looked amazing from the train, but it is nothing like the depth and bite of walking deep in the woods at our friend’s tree farm, a few days after it has all settled. I was so excited about the whole business, stomping and jumping and squealing with delight the minute we got out of the truck and my boots started crunching the white underfoot. I’d layered up, wearing near everything I own, so was super warm, and was pleased with my new Hunter rainboots, which I thought would keep me dry. And they did, but keep me warm they did not, in spite of three pairs of socks (one being wool). They are rainboots, but not snow boots. We hiked about the property for over an hour, up hills and down (enough to warm my little toes, thankfully), over fallen trees and brambly bushes, all buried under piles of snow. Every footfall was deep and soft.


SMILESWe came across a creek, and, much to my dismay, the boys skimmed clear across the frozen parts, not worried that it cracked behind them. I made a firm decision to brave it, and not whine and fret as I might usually, and was across the first part and scrambling up the bank, my gloves wet with snow, before I even knew it. I felt confident and daring and so on the way back, at a slightly wider point twenty minutes later, I had my shining moment. Screaming as I made the first step and heard a gaping crack, I leaped and skimmed and just a few moments later was in the arms of Jordy’s friends, laughing hysterically. Others took a fall, one got rather damp, but I’m told my crossing was the most majestic, and that the ice cracked and broke apart moments after each step like I was in a film. You might say I walked on water. It was terrifying and by far the most fun I’ve had in a very long time.

JORDY* Friends by their wood shed / house - the cosiest and sweetest thing I've seen in a long while. * A little of the winter wonderland I can't stop sighing about * Jordy making a safe crossing