Sometimes I think I am the worst possible example of a Canadian when it comes to all things winter. I can’t skate, I don’t like to ski, I face-plant when snowshoeing, and I have an annual “Countdown to Spring” on Facebook that is either revered or reviled, depending on the commenter. (113 days and about 16 hours as of this posting, in case you’re wondering.)
So when I heard the F-word (“flurries”) in the weather forecast, my mood took a nose-dive, and I decided to order my lunch as a treat. And, of course, the tiny bits of sky dandruff began dancing outside my window at the exact moment I hit “Place Order” on my phone. (Snow is sneaky like that.)
Snow isn’t that bad, I guess, but its companions Cold and Dark are what do me in. This time of year, it starts getting dark here shortly after 4 PM. My distant friend teased me that my “day is like, what? 23 minutes long?” And that’s exactly how it feels. So while my winter issues are mostly to do with temperature and lack of light, Snow is guilty by association.
You can imagine my reaction, then, when I went down to the front porch to wait for the pizza courier and saw that the “flurries” were actually sticking to the ground! My gaze was met by a thin coating of white in the grass and along the curbs, and the sky showed no signs of letting up.
“I didn’t authorize this!” I shouted to the blissfully ignorant sky. Then I flumped down on the bench in the front porch and watched for my pizza.
As if on cue, the small red car came around the slight curve up the street, approaching my house a bit fast for the conditions. I watched as the driver hit the brakes just before my driveway and slid, going past my house and stopping in front of the house next door. Then the reverse lights came on, the car moved quickly, and then slid past my driveway in the opposite direction.
If I weren’t already smiling at this point, the giant grin on the courier’s face as he gave up and got out of the car would have been contagious.
For most of my life in this small city, its citizens were primarily descendants of families with European origins –ones that had been here for decades, if not centuries — but thankfully we have become more diversified, more culturally rich in the last fifteen years. The last three years, in particular, have seen many newcomers from the Middle East make my hometown theirs as well. And I could tell, just by the look on his face, that this utterly delighted fellow had never seen snow before.
There was just enough snow down to make things slick under his brand-new boots, as he carried my little pizza box like a precious child, doing his very best to keep it level. My driveway is very steep, and even after nearly 25 years of living here, I lose my footing once or twice each winter and surrender to gravity. He was also finding it challenging.
But reenacting “Bambi on Ice” just made the pizza courier laugh, as if this new rule to the game just meant he’d leveled up. Going two steps forward, and sliding one step back, and roaring with laughter by the time he got to my steps, he seemed quite shocked to look up and see me in the porch. (The instructions had said “Please leave on top step by front door,” after all. That didn’t imply a hungry human watching.)
But by now I was grinning just as widely as he was. “You get used to it,” I called to him.
“I hope not,” the courier replied, climbing my stairs. “It is so beautiful!”
I thanked him for my pizza, offered a bit of advice (“Walk sideways down the driveway”), and thanked him. Not just for my pizza, but for allowing me to see the snow through his eyes, even for just a few minutes.
It’s going to be a long winter. The days will pass one by one. But I will do my best to remember that grin, and know that, as the flakes drift down, someone out there is not yet used to the beauty of snow.
And maybe I should look harder.