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Mummy Musings is a fortnightly column where Elisabeth Lee navigates the ups and downs of bringing up her daughter.
“Look, mummy, more purple flowers! These ones are crocuses! And what are those ones?”
It’s spring in the valley and signs of it are everywhere. First the snowdrops peeked through the last, lingering patches of snow, then the crocuses. Now, the bluebells are starting to appear. The days are longer and warmer. My garden seems about to burst into life.
Living in Singapore, one’s passage of time is marked perhaps by the school terms or cultural celebrations. For me, it always seemed like a never-ending cycle of Chinese New Year feasting, followed by a diet and exercise regimen, and then mooncake feasting, followed by more dieting and exercise. The Christmas and New Year indulgences would follow, along with yet more dieting and exercise, and then Chinese New Year would start again.
Here in Canada, our rhythms follow the seasons. Summer means camping and swimming outdoors, autumn is a time for foggy walks in the woods and hunting for mushrooms, winter is a time to strap on our skis and spring is a time for even more skiing.
It is somewhat difficult to convince little A of this last point. “It’s springtime, mama!” she hollers. “I don’t want to go up winter mountain!” Winter mountain is her name for our local ski hill (inspired by Dora the Explorer’s search for the four seasons) – and to a preschooler who is finally free of the tyranny of winter parkas, winter hats, winter mitts and winter boots, it’s the last place she wants to go to when the flowers in the valley are finally beginning to bloom.
As a parent, I feel I have to show her this is where she’s wrong. While it might be spring in the valley, it’s still mild winter up on the ski hill – there’s plenty of snow, almost 2.5 metres deep at this time of year. But the days are long, and the temperatures are mild. The skies are blue, the sun shines more often than it doesn’t. It’s my favourite time of the year to hit the slopes – and so we go. The garden can wait another week or two, but the spring snow stashes won’t.
While little A grumbled and moaned about going skiing, as soon as she strapped into her skis and whizzed down the first run, there was no looking back. This week, we’ve skied run after run of soft spring snow (not an icy patch in sight) under bluebird skies. There’s been no complaining about cold ears or freezing fingers – in fact, we’ve left the hardcore winter gear at home and are skiing in thin mitts and the bare minimum of layers.
Today, we made snow angels and built a snowman by the side of the run. We skied hard, lap after lap of the little rollers alongside the junior terrain park. I turn to A and say: “Aren’t you glad we’re up here instead of down in the valley?”
She looks down towards the grey slash of development nestled in the deep glacial valley we call home. “Yup! This is so much more fun,” she replies.
“See? I’m glad you came up with us, even if you didn’t want to.” I say. A says nothing and nestles in for a hug. We sit there and enjoy the view, giving our tired legs a little rest.
Then, her little voice pipes up: “But we better get down before we miss the Easter bunny.”
Elisabeth Lee is proof that it is never too late to consider a second, third or even fourth career, having come to both motherhood and writing late in life. She occasionally freelances and can be reached at bethgoeswriting.com.