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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Seeing the first snow through an International student's eyes

My International student from Brazil had been taking pictures of frost cover all week. I kept telling her, “that’s not real snow.” I knew she would be excited to see an actual snowfall. “One day you’ll wake up and it will just be all white outside,” I told her. “It’s beautiful. I still get excited at the first snowfall, every year.” Sunday, Marilia and Vicky got to try out their new winter wear.
It was quite fun to watch. First, they opened the front door and just squealed as a gust of wind blew snowflakes in their faces.
“Ok, guys. We like to keep the snow outside if we can,” and I pushed them gently out the door, to more squeals. They carefully slid their feet over the slippery porch and I ran to get my camera.
Victoria, from Suzhou near Shanghai in China has seen snow before, “but never this big!” We had about 2 cms on the ground. I told her she ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Marilia, who lives near the beach in Recife, Brazil, had never seen a snowflake. She just stood there for a while, watching each beautiful, fat flake land and melt on her black gloves. I think she had tears in her eyes. I was reminded of my daughters as babies, seeing snow for the first time.
It must be like when we ‘Southerners’ head north to experience aurora borealis. Or the first time we see an ocean with no visible limit. For Marilia, feeling the snow fall on her face was like rounding a corner in Switzerland and being faced with the Alps for the first time.
“Do you hear it crunching under your feet?” I demonstrated by stomping around. “That means it’s good for making a snowman.”
Beach girl Marilia picked up a handful of snow, formed it into a perfect snowball and whipped it at Victoria. Vicky responded by throwing a handful of snow at Marilia. It all blew back in her face.
For the next twenty minutes the girls worked together to make a snowman that was about a foot tall. I think I’ll make them a life-sized one to greet them when they return from school on Monday.
I dragged the Christmas lights outside and proceeded to put them on the tree. The Farmer suffers from vertigo when at the top of a ladder so I get to do this job myself every year. I rigged up an extendable pole with a hook on the end but I still couldn’t reach the top of the evergreen I had decorated last year. Could it really have grown three feet in one year?
I decided to light the cedar shrub instead. This turned out to be not a great idea, as it was already circled with wild grapevine that gripped my hook pole and light string at every opportunity. I lost the business end of my implement in the tree, nearly fell off my ladder tugging on the string and had the branch whip back in my face, getting snow in my eyes.
The girls watched with concern from the window in the house, where they had retreated to warm up by the fire.
An hour later I had succeeded in throwing all ten light strings up onto the twenty-foot cedar tree. The vines held them in place. It was a group effort. It doesn’t look pretty, but as the saying goes, a man on a galloping horse wouldn’t tell the difference. Especially if he’s riding after dark.
When I returned inside to take a layer off, having worked up a bit of sweat, I found the girls still sitting on the couch by the fire, in full winter gear. Hoo boy.
Maybe it’s more like the opposite of us going to the desert for the first time, in +50 degrees Celsius. Because these two are acting like it’s forty below when it’s plus 2.
Marilia is here until mid-January. Hopefully we won’t get minus 30 until she is gone home to the beach. Victoria, however, is going to get to wear her Ugg boots and high-fashion parka a little more than that. She is here ‘til the bitter end and other than a break at Christmas, she doesn’t go home to China until June. Oh Canada!

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