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A warm January, with no roving bands of coyotes

The Jacksons, from the Jan. 29, 2015 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator

I keep expecting to hear geese flying overhead.” Brady Jackson looked up at the sky through the curved glass walls of his parents’ brand new sunroom. “It feels absolutely like spring out there.”

“It certainly looks like spring,” said Andrew. “Early spring. Grey and dreary and mucky.”

“I don’t like it,” said Rose. “It’s too warm. And you know what’s going to happen. We’ll just be getting used to it and then one night we’ll go to bed and the snow will be melting on the roof and we’ll have the window open a crack because the bedroom gets too hot if we don’t and then we’ll wake up at four in the morning and our hair will be frozen to the headboard because the temperature’s gone down to -65 outside and the north wind is howling through the trees like a Florida hurricane.”

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There was a moment of silence.

“Or it could just stay warm,” said Andrew.

“My uncle and aunt will be so ticked off if it stays warm,” Amanda piped up.

“Really?” said Rose. “Why would anyone be ticked off about that?”

“Because they’re going to Mexico,” said Amanda. “They’ve never gone south in winter before but they’ve saved up so they can go this year to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Uncle Bob says if it’s not at least 25 below when they go to the airport he’s going to cancel the tickets and stay home just to make a statement.”

“Make a statement to who?” asked Andrew.

Amanda shrugged. “Mother Nature I guess,” she said. “He’s kidding obviously. He knows if he did that Auntie would just go without him. Uncle Bob is kind of the epitome of hyperbole anyway,” she added.

“They should have gone last year,” said Brady. “They could have gone literally any day between November 1 and February 28 and the temperature would have been -25 at the airport.”

“Now who’s being the epitome of hyperbole,” said Rose.

There was a brief lull in the conversation as the four of them gazed out into the backyard.

“So, Amanda,” said Andrew at length. “How are you enjoying life in the country? Not missing the hustle and bustle of city life that you used to get here?” He looked over at Rose. “Yesterday,” he said, “a car drove by at 11:30 in the evening, and Rose said honey, we have to move back to the country, there’s too much traffic here.”

Amanda laughed. “We lived here for like three years and I don’t think we ever had a car drive by after 11 o’clock. Did we Brady?”

“Nope,” said Brady. “But, the times, they are a changin’.”

“And to answer your question, I love it in the country,” said Amanda. “I will never get tired of just standing outside at night looking at the stars! Growing up in the city, as a kid, I had no idea there were so many stars. Seriously, I thought there were maybe a couple of hundred.”

“Yeah, that’s really something, isn’t it?” said Rose. “Can you imagine? There are people living in cities like New York who have never seen stars. I mean, in the movies maybe, but never in their natural habitat.”

“Oh and I love the coyotes,” said Amanda. “They get to howling at the moon, it makes me feel like I’m back in the Wild West, homesteading on the great open prairie.”

Andrew grimaced. “Ah yes,” he said. “It’s all very romantic until somebody loses a dozen sheep.”

“I know,” said Amanda. “I feel like I shouldn’t like the coyotes, but I can’t help it.”

“It’s OK,” said Andrew. “You’re a city girl. The harsh realities of frontier life haven’t become real to you yet.”

Brady snorted. “Ah yes pops,” he said looking around. “A hot tub and an all-glass sunroom with padded Adirondack chairs. Those are the harsh realities of frontier life for you.”

“Well, the realities aren’t as harsh as they used to be,” said Andrew. “We’ve managed to build a civilization that affords us relative peace and comfort, despite the depredations of roving bands of coyotes. But it wasn’t always easy.”

“Packs of coyotes,” said Rose. “They’re called packs.”

“Call them what you will,” said Andrew, “we have brought them under control. It’s not the coyotes that are going to threaten the civilization we love.”

“It’s not?” said Amanda. “Then what will?”

“We will,” said Andrew. “The adolescent human race. Capable of all kinds of amazing things of which we have no idea what the consequences will be. But we’ll do the things anyway, because like adolescents, we’re not that worried about consequences.”

There was another brief lull.

“This room is awesome,” said Brady.

“Civilization,” said Andrew. “It’s worth fighting for.”

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