Winter apparition

Fifty years ago (in 1970) we were on a snowmobile running west across the ice of Twelve Mile Bay. A bit of wind swirled fluffy flakes of snow creating a gentle blizzard effect which made the shoreline and islands, as they gradually appeared, stand out from the murky background.

Through this gloom nearly a mile ahead appears a mysterious dark shape on the ice. It’s too big to be another snowmobile and it has appendages reaching to the ice so it isn’t a scoot. It’s getting closer. What on earth is it?

Suddenly it becomes clear to our snow-blown eyes, and above the noise of our engine we hear ourselves laughing aloud at the incongruity.

For materializing out of the murk ahead is an old orange tractor barreling over the ice with a grinning Santa Claus standing up “in the stirrups” as it were.

With a stabilizing hand on the bucking steering wheel, this ruddy-faced, white-whiskered apparition returns our laughter with a hearty wave. In a minute he has returned to the gloom astern, and we can just make out enough to see the out-of-place machine swing ashore and disappear among some trees.

We have no idea who it was or where he went, but maybe an elder at the nearby Moose Deer Point First Nation might remember him.

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