Goodbye winter
Signs of spring are blossoming

by Ralph Plath
Northern News Services

FORT SIMPSON (Apr 11/97) - Goodbye winter, and hello spring.

Deh Cho residents don't have many days left to take advantage of the snow that provides a lot of fun for most of the year.

Snowmobilers, skiers, skaters and toboggan enthusiasts are spending as much time as they can in the warming sun that is slowly melting our wintry playground away.

And before you know it, spring will be here and gone, and summer will be upon us.

The thermometer is still hitting lows of -15 C at night and most Deh Cho communities -- except, of course, Nahanni Butte and Fort Liard -- haven't been blessed with many above-zero days. The huge piles of snow are slowly receding.

Yes, signs of spring are blossoming everywhere.

Birds such as pine grosbeaks and chickadees are beginning to fill the forests were their sweet sounds while squirrels and chipmunks are appearing more frequently from their winter beds.

In communities such as Fort Simpson, snowplows and dump trucks have been clearing the streets of snow in preparation of expected flooding.

And a walk down the village main street reveals a large number of shiny new trucks residents have bought with help from their income tax refunds, and money from winter contracts.

Perk up your ear at one of the local restaurants and you'll catch stories of past break-ups -- how long they've lasted or who was flooded out -- or when break-up will happen this year. Many residents are eager to predict when Fort Simpson will open up to road traffic and make a little money at the same time through break-up pools.

Meanwhile, most winter roads are officially off limits to vehicles and most people are wondering when the Mackenzie River crossing at Fort Providence will close.

Last year, the big day was April 12 and it was a few weeks before the ferry could resume its service. The five-year average closing date is April 20.

But when break-up finally does happen, we'll all know for sure that winter is behind us and the long, hot days of summer are just around the corner.