By Serina Gesner
I’ve always enjoyed driving north. It usually means I’m driving home, but on some lucky occasions I find myself making my way up to beautiful Big River, or more specifically Ness Creek. One of the main reasons I love this drive is because of the anticipation I feel on the way. No matter the reason I’m going, I know great people and many amazing moments await me! The main reason behind this north bound trip was to attend the very first Fire & Ice! A festive event full of laughter, friends, skiing, sleigh rides, bonfires, art, and in fact even bonfires IN art!
All of this happened on Saturday March the 5th of 2016, on the same day as the annual Nordic Ness Loppet! The morning was full of adventure as people took to the (20+) km of groomed ski trails that Ness Creek has to offer. Many of the participants were regulars of the loppet and had brought their own skis, but not to worry, there are rentals available on site for everyone! People came and went on their skis thought out the morning, my friends and I ended up at the lovely Artist’s Studio in the woods!
We entered the intriguing building to find it was perfectly warm and cozy waiting for us. It was kept open for skiers as a warmup shack, and just a general hang out spot, so we stoked the fire and made ourselves at home on the comfy couches and took in all the incredible things that had been collected in this building. The walls are lined with art, books, CD’s and many other attention grabbing odds and ends. After only a short time we were joined by groups of skiers’ who had come in to rest and chase the slight chill from the bones, and it was slight, as the temperature was a warm -5C to -10C throughout the day. Pleasantries between strangers soon turned to a fun conversation between new friends, some of my fondest memories of the trip happened in that wonderful studio out in the woods. I just can’t wait to visit again, luckily the Studio can be rented!
We eventually made our way back to the festival site, to our delight we discovered that the sleigh rides had begun! We wasted little time getting ourselves a spot on one of the horse drawn sleighs, the fastest people acquiring themselves seats on straw bales, all of which had been provided by Big River Trail Riders, thank you so much! I must say, I have never, and will never experience a sleigh ride quite like that one! In no time at all it was a horse drawn jam session as the instruments came out and we progressed though the trails and the songs. I love remembering this joyous experience, I can only dream of what next year will bring!
When we got back to home base, lunch was on! We had a choice between some savoury chilli, and delicious pulled pork on a bun with coleslaw, there were even cinnamon buns! All of this was thanks to Third & Main from Big River. Yum, it was the perfect way to progress into the festivities of the evening! One of the main attractions of the event was Melting Man, a spectacular display of art and nature that had been created by the talented Doug Lingelbach for the Fire & Ice festival. This portion of the event was set to begin at dusk, after the fireworks! Fireworks at Ness, what a treat!
As the sun retired, there were two big fires blazing, keeping everyone cozy while the jamming took over again. There is absolutely nothing better than listening to some amazingly talented people doing their thing around the camp fire. There is no place I’d rather be than singing around the fire with friends until the early hours of the morning. This jovial activity gave way for a time as the artistic visualisation that was Melting Man began. Pictures only go so far in describing this incendiary excursion of the senses. To feel the heat of the aesthetically placed inferno as this remarkable piece of art slowly melted and joined with the flame. It was breathtaking to behold. There is a tragic beauty in art composed of ice and snow, as it can’t last, except in our memories. I’ll never in my life be able to forget all the art that I was fortuitous enough to witness on this surreal occasion.
Old friends, new friends, friends I haven’t even met yet all shared in making this affair into what is now a most fondly treasured treasured memory, I only wish I’d had more time to spend with all the terrific people I encountered in what time I did have at Ness. I’m already so excited for next year, though I know I’ll definitely be going back up to magnificent Ness Creek much sooner than that! My dream home away from home.