The Rocky Mountains chewing the sky with jagged black and white teeth. Pencil-thin pines dotted with clumps of snow against a pure-white landscape, like relics of an ice age. Frozen rivers and lakes under buckled slabs of ice, snow blowing over their surface like dry sand. Hoarfrost so thick that the leafless trees along Highway 14 look as if dipped in icing sugar. Alberta in winter, December 2001.