Country living that would make your hair curl

No exaggeration A transplant from the east realizes there’s a reason 
why they set up wind turbines near Pincher Creek

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It’s been six months since I moved out to the country with my two sons and it’s been quite an adventure. We’re 20 minutes from Pincher Creek, so I took planning for the worst quite seriously when we first moved here. I felt immense pressure to stockpile emergency goods and firewood. I spent most of November scurrying about like a squirrel with a compulsive hoarding disorder. Soon, I had a cord of wood, several boxes of matches, 30 pounds of flour and more than 100 rolls of toilet paper. All that remained was to wait patiently for winter to come. Unless the definition of winter has changed to “wind,” I am still waiting.

I worked very hard at not complaining about the wind. When I was contemplating Pincher Creek as a possible relocation destination, many people tried valiantly to warn me. (My editor Will included, if I recall correctly!) Unfortunately, I am bullheaded and eternally optimistic. “How bad can it be?” I asked myself, discounting the warnings and indeed, even my own research on the area. “At least it’s not a north wind,” I said to my concerned friends. As it turns out, when the wind is blowing at more than 100 kms, it doesn’t matter what direction it comes from. And blow it did — sometimes for weeks without reprieve. The water in the toilet bowl could create waves big enough for a gopher to surf. Sometimes, my bed would rattle so much that I would sleep on the couch. Even the dog stopped asking to go outside.

Then in February, something magical happened. The wind started to slow down and we began to emerge from the house again, squinting our eyes in the bright sun, but keeping one hand on a tree, just in case.

I’ve spent a lot of time walking in the coulee near the house, and my youngest son has become even more enthusiastic about learning how to hunt than I am. We have spent countless hours outside hiking, and identifying tracks and scat. Perhaps because I am a single mom and because I am interested in things like snakes and spiders, my boys have always been rather proud of their non-traditional mother. But I did have a moment of self-doubt when my youngest said, “You’re the best mom ever, because really, you’re more like a man that happens to cook really good.”

I’ve always been a tomboy, but I’ve also always enjoyed being female, and my son’s comment played in my head frequently for the better part of a week. I found myself in town, cruising the aisles of the pharmacy for items that would reinforce my femininity.

I don’t own a hair dryer, or even a curling iron, but it seemed to me a logical starting place would be some curling rolls. You see, the following weekend, we were going to visit my boyfriend who lives in the mountains, and he was taking me skiing for the very first time. I wanted to be a pretty snow bunny instead of a cookie-baking lumberjack, and so I brought the rollers home.

It really did look simple. With typical reckless gusto, I tore open the package and started rolling my hair in what I imagined was the classic snow bunny way. And everything went well — until I tried to take them out.

“The rollers wouldn’t budge. I ran to the recycling bin and retrieved the instructions I had tossed without reading. As it turns out, the curlers were for short, fine hair. And hair is supposed to be dry, not wet, when the curlers are put in. I had very long, very thick and unfortunately, very wet hair at the outset of this terrible experiment.

For two hours, I stood in front of the mirror prying one strand at a time from the sadistic rollers with limited success. I had managed to extract approximately half of my hair.

Panicked, I started calling hair stylists, hoping to make an emergency rescue appointment but not a single one had an opening in time to save me. So, much like the eldest boy in the “Old Yeller” movie, I did what had to be done. I started cutting. Eventually, a young hair stylist in Crowsnest Pass took pity on me, and I was able to get a more professional cut before I sheepishly showed up at my boyfriend’s house.

Though traumatic, it was a lesson well learned: You may be able to take the girl out of the tomboy, but you can never take the tomboy out of the girl. Especially without reading the directions first.

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