written and performed by Dan Vie
for Lake Trail’s Old Time Winter Dance
Come on, everybody – cozy up to your neighbour. Say hi and get friendly. Gather round a bit and I’m gonna tell you a story.
This is a story about Old Man Courtenay. The Original Man around these parts. Now of course – I didn’t know him. But my great- great- great grandfather knew him, personally. And Old Man Courtenay had a lot of stories to tell, a lot to pass on.
Well, a lot of people around Lake Trail remember the Big Fire. But how many here’ve heard about the Big Winter of 1925? Old Man Courtenay did. That was a fantastic cold. Ohhh, it was sooo cold back then, even the icicles had icicles! Thermometers kept droppin’ down… then, they got stuck at 68 below zero. Man, it was so cold, you had to back up peeing. And when you went to bed, you’d break the flame right off the candle. That year, Winter lasted all summer; and all the crows and squirrels froze solid, and fell right off the trees.
So Old Man Courtenay, he was a hunting man and a fisherman – but that year he worked as a lumber-jack, there was a lot more trees back then. And the snow fell so hard up around Bevan, the loggers had to dig deep just to find the treetops. How’d they get those trees out? Well – they’d shovel a big, wide hole 100-feet down, then lower the axe-men on pulleys to chop at the trunks, and haul the logs up to Comox Road on chains. The whole damn crew got nasty frost-bite – they ran the horses ’round picking up all the ears and noses that’d froze and dropped off.
Ha!!! It was hard, miserable work. The air was blue with frozen cusswords – it was a great roar of cussing when those words thawed out in the Spring!
But that winter kept right on going. In a few weeks it was so cold, the very Dawn froze up solid. The Sun Itself got stuck – squashed right between two great ice blocks!! – and Old Mother Earth iced up so much she couldn’t turn. The first rays of sunlight froze half over the glacier top… they looked like yellow icicles dripping on the ground.
Now Old Man Courtenay, he was headed home after a good night’s hunt when he saw the dawn froze up like that. He knew he had to do something quick or the earth was a goner. He had a fresh killed bear thrown over his back – so he whipped it off, climbed right up on those rays of sunlight and started whomping the bear carcass against those ice blocks. WHOMP!!! WHOMP!!! WHOMP!!!! Soon, a gush of Hot Bear Oil gooshed out of that bear and it melted the ice!
Then, Old Courtenay gave the sun a good hard kick to get it started, and the sun’s heat un-froze the earth and started her spinning again! Jump-started the Northern Lights too. Then Old Man Courtenay LAUGHED. HA! HA! HA! HAAA!!!!
So Old Man C. threw the bear back over his shoulder, lit his pipe on the sun, slid down the sun rays before they melted…and took a bit of sunrise home in his pocket. And that’s where I’m putting my story down. That’s so someone can pick it up again later.