Disembarking at Ontario: First Snow

Welcome to my blog! Disembarking at Ontario is a series of short accounts that chronicle my experiences in Canada from my arrival to the present day; everything written about it is true.

I feel the insides of my nose rattle as my nose-hairs freeze up. I feel how my face is numbing from the wind. Most of all I feel awed by how much cold I had not known I could withstand. 

Previous post: First Impressions

I start my day by running out the door half-blind and in the thin t-shirt and shorts I wear as pajamas. I hear exclamations of my name as I step out into the porch with bare feet, my breath frosting to my wonderment with every open-mouthed exhale.

Today I am colder than I have ever been in my life, but I don’t care. For the first time in my life, my world is blanketed in white. I bend down to feel the snow with my naked, marveling, fingers. Later I will learn that there are all kinds of snow – clean fresh snow packed and malleable; soft powdery snow that finds its way into clothes when the wind blows; hard icy snow that hurts when you slip on it; and dirty sludgy snow, half-melted, as brown as chocolate.

(four years later I will slip on a patch of black ice and scrape my palm open in three places. when I curl my fingers over the bleeding I will clench my teeth and wonder why anyone would ever come here and choose to stay.

but right now I am young and still full of delight, and today isn’t that day. It is a good one.)

I am hustled back into warmth by my concerned housemates for fear I develop frostbite because foreign-ness is a kind of ignorance that borders on reckless stupidity.  My housemates eventually coax me into my glasses, a coat, jeans, and gloves. Someone tries to jam a fuzzy hat on my head until I try to bite them.

Today is my first snowball fight. I scoop snow into my hands and produce weapons that make it clear that my strong point was never geometry. My aim is bad and my snowballs are clumsy and fall apart in the air. How curious it is, I remark later with a burnt tongue and a mug of chocolate, that water freezes somewhere in the heavens, to fall prettily upon the earth. My friends just smile at me indulgently – they do not find it curious at all.

Today is the first time I ride in a car on icy roads. It is my best friend who drives me to the nearest grocery store, his summer tires sliding on the icy road. On the way, he informs me casually about the statistics of accidents caused by driving with inappropriate tires. I inform him not so casually that I don’t want to be part of the statistic.

We end up buying two carrots and nothing else. The cashier looks at us, our almost two feet height difference, and our purchases weirdly, until we explain that we are on our way to build my first snowman. In true small-town Canadian form she brightens up immediately and wishes us a very good snow-day.

Today I build a snowman for the first time. My best friend teaches me how to roll a snowball with both hands across the snow-covered hill until it becomes big enough to become the base, the middle, and the head. I am given the job of packing a pair of snow-boots unto our creation, while he pretends not to struggle as he lifts the body onto the base. I feel the insides of my nose rattle as my nose-hairs freeze up. I feel how my face is numbing from the wind. Most of all I feel awed by how much cold I had not known I could withstand.

Our snowman, once completed, is not a thing of particular skill or beauty. The sun has come out during our exertions and my best friend informs me, not unkindly, that our creation will most likely be gone by the morning.

Today I have seen snow with my own eyes, packed a snowball with my own hands, and built a frozen creature from ground-up.

Oh, but, that is today. Tomorrow, perhaps, I would like to have a warm day.

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