A winter festival began in Saskatoon last Saturday, and so we decided to bundle up and spend the day there on Sunday. It was a balmy -12 degrees outside, and so I was feeling rather complacent. Warm, almost. We arrived just after noon, and there weren’t too many people there yet. We admired the ice sculptures and the kids played on the slide, and with the multi-coloured ice blocks. The sculptures were amazing. We didn’t get to see them being carved, but June was telling us that the sculptors had been using chainsaws and blowtorches the day before with great abandon. The photo below doesn’t really justice to the intricate detailing of the piece:
We got our hands stamped for entry to the Ice Park, and set off to see what adventures it contained. They had a great sled run coming down from an Ice Castle, and the snowy slope up to it was thronged with kids, all in a heap because there were more children than red flexible sleds. There was huge confusion to start with, until the guy running the show deputised Michael to stand at the gate while he sorted out the mess. Michael stood there checking everyone’s wrist for the stamp, while the other guy issued instructions as to how to queue, pass the sleds to the top, slide to the bottom and do it all over again. With order restored, the sledding began again, and Benjamin and Christopher headed over to the huge ice-climbing wall.
I don’t know what I expected it to be, but I wasn’t expecting crampons and ice-axes. Each person was harnessed, fitted with crampons, goggles, a helmet and a pair of ice-axes, and set loose on the wall. It looked absolutely impossible to me. Christopher made a decent stab at it and got halfway up the wall. When it got to Nicholas’ turn, he was too small to do it, because the crampons were too big. Michael carted him off, distraught, to get hot chocolate, and Benjamin got suited up. He set off with great determination, and got the hang of it about a third of the way up. There was no stopping him then. He got as far as the top of the wall, with all the people in the queue cheering him on. He was thrilled with himself. Isabel attempted it too, but couldn’t get the hang of it at all, and was too cold at that stage to care. I was frozen as well, my initial impression of the day’s warmth having rapidly dissipated. It mightn’t have been -40, but it was still bloody freezing.
We sat and had coffee and cookies with Michael, Rebecca and Nicholas, and then decided to head for the Ice-Skating Party at the Meewasin ice rink. Tim Hortons were sponsoring the party, so there was free hot chocolate, coffee and mini-doughnuts for all. The DJ had music blasting and the fire-pit was red-hot and smoky. Christopher and Benjamin spun around, balancing cups of hot chocolate, and Isabel abandoned her wooden chair after a while and started to glide after them. Nicholas is improving a bit, but discovered that the easiest way for him to stop on the skates was to hurl himself against me. It wouldn’t have been too bad, except that his head is at perfect chest-height, so he just kept cannoning into me and head-butting me in the boobs. After being caught unaware for the tenth time, I couldn’t take any more, and sent him off with instructions to either learn how to stop properly, or throw himself into the snow at the edge of the rink. Rebecca climbed into the deep snow and made snow angels. By the time we got them home, they all had to strip to the skin in the basement and hop into hot showers, while everything on them went into the washing-machine. Here is the link to the festival: