The goal was to get home for Canadian Thanksgiving this past weekend.
Standing in my way was a monster blizzard that seemed intent on sitting over Winnipeg, Manitoba, and blowing two feet of snow upon it.
But, sitting with my snuggling dogs in Kentucky the night before my trip, my flight still showed on time. My brother was flying in from Edmonton with his wife Jennie. My Tante Denise was flying in from Montreal. And my mom was excited, desperately excited, to have her family finally assembled together once again.
So, the next morning, I set out for Cincinnati. By then, the snow had been falling in Winnipeg for 24 hours. When I texted my Australian stepdad Peter — who still wonders how he has found himself living in one of the coldest places on earth — how things were looking, his response was, “Quite crappy.”
But the flight still showed on time. I checked in and tried to get the ticket agent to give up some secrets. When she didn’t, I tried to determine my future by scrutinizing her face, which unfortunately looked like the emoji with the straight line for a mouth.
So I threw myself to chance. I wouldn’t check my bag in the event that I get stranded in Minneapolis, where I had to fly to first before the flight to Winnipeg. And I decided I wouldn’t get upset if I did get stranded, which I was 90 percent sure would happen. I imagined a club sandwich in a hotel room somewhere and a stiff little drink from a hotel bar.
But the flight to Cincinnati took off without a hitch and when I arrived in Minneapolis, my flight to Winnipeg still showed on time. Again, I tried to get information to prepare myself for disappointment, but no one knew anything.
By then, my parents had sent me pictures of their front and back yard, which had been deftly, completely buried in beautiful, puffy snow. My aunt’s flight had been canceled in Montreal, but my brother (born with a horseshoe up you-know-where) had already arrived in Winnipeg from Edmonton.
So I ordered a beer and crossed my fingers. It’s interesting how you can impose your perspective on a place based on your mood. Even though almost no one in Minneapolis knew it was Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, I found myself feeling like the restaurant had a holiday feel. And even though it was snow-free, even dry, in Minneapolis, I found myself feeling cozy, like I’d already arrived in Winnipeg and was surrounded by blizzard.
Two hours later, my flight was still on time. There was a big part of me that still continued to be wary, expecting a last-minute cancellation. But, nope.
We boarded, were warned it might be bumpy and the plane took off as if nothing was happening at the destination on the other side.
As we descended, I looked out the window, wanting to see my vast, flat province dressed all in white. But there were just clouds and more clouds. I kept expecting them to break and waited intently to see the slithering brown of the Red and Assiniboine rivers and the familiar shapes of the buildings downtown. It seemed to be taking a while and I wondered if we were circling. But then, even though it was still completely white out of the window, we suddenly touched down blind on the runway.
I’d made it.
Finally, I could make out shapes and people. The snow was driving down and there were workers pushing snow off the runway with skid-steer loaders. I suddenly felt enormous pride for this place that I left so long ago. I texted my husband William that I’d arrived, and I could hear the marvel in his words: “If there is any airport in North America that could handle a blizzard like this, it’s Winnipeg.”
After getting my (wet) luggage, I walked outside to find Peter waiting for me in his warm, clean car. We started driving home, and I stared at the charming, white city around us. Somehow, the roads had already been cleared at least once. The trees drastically drooped under the weight of the wet, heavy snow, and I saw that many of them had broken branches. But otherwise, this sturdy, brave, little city was completely intact and ready to welcome in Thanksgiving.
I walked into the house and everyone turned around from the island in the kitchen. And suddenly and all at once, I was miraculously home.