Today I was schooled. This is not a bad thing. Those who know me, know that I love to learn new things and better ways of doing things I already know. I get bored with repetition, and monotony literally makes me weep. Doing the same thing day in and day out brings on a gray, depressed mood that is difficult to lift. So, when I say I was schooled, regardless of how I was schooled, it is a good thing.
Today’s schooling was almost not a good thing. We’ve had snow on and off for the past month or so. It has been glorious! I love the snow. So much so that if I wake up in the wee hours, as I very often do, and it is snowing, I will stand for ages at the window watching the magnificent flakes spiraling softly to the ground. I revel in the silence, the almost-frozen-in-time stillness that is broken only by the obnoxiously noisy clattering and rumbling of the bright, roaring snow plows. These monster machines wouldn’t be out of place in Mad Max Fury Road. I love them! They fill me with such childish glee and excitement! I want to shout with them! I often wonder about the people who operate them: what are they thinking all alone in the roaring darkness?
Back to today’s lesson. Snow, and then warm weather and rain. Followed by freezing temperatures, equals ice. Not the friendly fill a glass with ice and pour a gin and tonic kind of ice. This ice is different. This ice plays a sadistic game of ‘Let’s shatter some bones and bruise some egos’. I knew there was ice today. We are kept well-informed with news reports on the weather with ‘Extreme weather’ warnings. And Canada’s favourite past time is discussing the weather (that’s how I know we are really and truly home – we talk about the weather all the time, too!). So, I knew. But I chose to use this as a learning and teaching moment for me and Holly.
I walk Holly to and from school most days of the week. It’s a wonderful privilege I have, afforded to me because I work from home, and I am grateful every day that I can do it. -15 degrees C? No problem! Pull your scarf up around your face, Buddy, and wear an extra layer of clothes. Snowing? Perfect! Let’s catch snowflakes on our tongues. But ice is different. So I have learned. The thing I should have paid heed to was that no other kids were walking to school (except our neighbour and her children, but she is from the former USSR so this kind of weather is basically summer for her). When the neighbour returned and immediately went outside to salt the sidewalk, that should have been clue number three. Yet, again, I thought I knew better, and Holly must learn to walk on icy sidewalks. We live in Canada for goodness sake! There is snow and ice; toughen up! But, the ice is different.
Holly pretty much ice-skated to school on the sidewalk, fearless as she usually is (being the bravest girl I know). The threat of a fall softened for her by the three layers of pants she was wearing including puffy snow pants. I do not have puffy snow pants and I am somewhat less bendy than Holly. I fall with a greater impact than children do. So, I walked the distance to the school in fear of breaking a leg. I walked in the crunchy snow where it is less slippery but more labour intensive. I felt like an intrepid explorer making my way through yet uncharted land in the frozen depths of Antarctica. Somewhat dramatic, I concede, since her school is 300 meters from our house.
So, here I sit. Undamaged, bones intact, ego free of lacerations. But schooled in the ways of Canadian ice. There are so many things for us still to learn! It’s excruciatingly exciting. We’ve spent almost our entire lives in almost perpetual summer, snow and ice in nature a notion that was familiar only at the most superficial level. I can’t wait for my next lesson. Let’s hope it’s as painless as this one was.