Cochrane resident experiences wonder amidst cold and snow

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, February 15, 2018

Snow on a pair of antique steel wheels on Paul Knudtson’s Bow Meadows lawn glows in the morning sun and outlines a nearby hand water pump rescued from the family homestead. Photos by Paul Knudtson

So, how do you celebrate a dump of snow on a –30 degree day like we had last week in Cochrane? Why, you grab your camera, of course, and journey down memory lane!

And that’s exactly what Bow Meadows resident Paul Knudtson did. And not only that, but, inspired by last week’s column on wintertime beauty, he’s sharing two of his photos and his nostalgic comments about them with us this week.

Paul, a biblical scholar, fellow Wheaton College alumnus, and former Lutheran pastor of churches across western Canada, moved to our beautiful community a few years ago. His home office overlooks his front yard.

One morning last week he looked out his window and was filled with a sense of wonder. “I saw the light of the morning sun shining through the newly fallen snow on top of a pair of old steel wheels,” he says.

“I am often taking photos of things that I see near and around our house or when I am on walks beside the Bow River. I also often send some of these photos to my siblings or children as a way to stay in touch with them, as well as sharing some of the beauty of this world that I witness on a daily basis.”

When the sight of the sun shining through the snow caught his attention, he grabbed his smartphone and rushed outside to take a few photos.

“The wheels come from the farm that I grew up on near Donalda, Alta.,” he says. “They always remind me of my rural roots. Once when we were visiting my parents on the farm, my wife, Elaine, spotted these old wheels and thought they would look nice in our yard. That was back in the early 1990s. They have been in our front yard ever since, first in Camrose, then here in Cochrane.

“I built a wooden box and mounted it on the frame between the wheels. Every summer we roll out these wheels carrying a wooden box of red geraniums into the middle of our front yard. Whenever I see them, these old wheels remind me of the farm and the life I once had.

“I do not know where the steel wheels originally come from. They are certainly old and must come from some kind of farm machine used in the pioneer days. When I first became aware of them as a boy on the farm, dad had already repurposed them as wheels on a wooden loading chute for pigs.

“When we needed to load some pigs, we would simply roll the chute to the door of the pig house and then load the pigs into the truck box. I imagine that dad built this chute in the early 1960s. He went out of pigs in the mid-1970s, and the chute with its steel wheels was no longer needed. So the wheels mounted on their frame sat unused in the farm yard for fifteen or more years before we moved them to our house in town.”

Back in Bow Meadows now, there was another snow-covered memory-lane detail that also begged to be photographed. Tucked away in the shadows beyond the wheels was an old hand pump that came from his grandfather’s nearby homestead on which Paul’s father grew up.

“Such sights fill me with a sense of wonder,” our coffee companion says. “Perhaps your columns will prompt me to ponder these instances of beauty more deeply, paying even closer attention to them.”

Thank you, Paul, for sharing your sense of wonder with us.


© 2018 Warren Harbeck

Return to Coffee With Warren home page