A few days before Christmas our next door neighbor headed south and handed over her home to a couple of Kiwis from New Zealand. This lovely couple arrived in Canada, excited to experience a Canadian winter. I brought over some Christmas cookies in the pouring rain and 15 degree weather on December 22nd…
But then, as it always does in Ottawa, winter arrived with a bang! And we have snow. Lots of snow.
Our Kiwi friends had a lesson in shoveling the driveway and have ventured out for many walks. They are loving the snow and the mild temperatures. But they are seeing some things that are very puzzling.
Question: “We walked by the hill at the park and saw a dad putting his one and half year old on a sled and happily pushed the child down the hill. The child was laughing, then crashed, then cried. And then got up and did it all over again. Is this a Canadian right of passage or something?”
It got me thinking how very unusual we are. We bundle our kids up and send them out to play in the freezing cold, snow, sleet, hail. “Hey kids! A storm! Everybody get dressed and out you go!!”
Yesterday I was taking our kids sledding along with some other neighbor kids. We bumped into our Kiwi friends who were just returning from a first attempt at snow shoeing in the park. Comment: “Wow. Snow shoeing really requires a different set of muscles doesn’t it?”. Yep! Says I. Wanna come sledding with us now? You can’t visit Canada without sledding. Let me grab our Crazy Carpets so you can have a true Canadian sledding experience!
They are very eager so they readily agreed and came along with us. After a quick demonstration they hopped on and were sledding like pros, feet up high to avoid impediments to speed, spinning around backwards, flipping over. Standard sledding form when one is using a Crazy Carpet.
They then noticed that all the kids had moved over to a different spot so they went off to explore this potentially better hill. When I caught up with them they were watching with looks of mild concern. Aren’t you going to try it?, ask I. Response: “That drop is VERTICAL!” So…you aren’t going to try it? “Um. NO. We will go back over to the other hill.” Okay, enjoy the bunny hill. In truth, the kids (all aged 6-9) were careening with glee down a hill that, in the summer, is actually a rock cliff. Yes, I guess it is vertical. But I am Canadian. It didn’t seem odd to be letting my 5 year old plunge down it backwards. Is that weird?
Yesterday I was out back with my kids and we were building short sledding track down the large piles of snow. One track ended at the brick wall of the house. Another track took you through the narrow gate to the front yard (or, into the gate door if you didn’t steer right). A third track ended at the base of the large oak tree. Crashing into stuff is fun, isn’t it? I was kind of glad our Kiwi friends weren’t watching.
This morning our family headed over to the local rink to begin the process of packing down the snow in preparation for the first round of flooding with the fire hose. Our neighbor (not the Kiwis!) rented a couple of those big drums that you fill with water and roll over ground to level it. We dragged those over the snow to pack it down. The kids took turns. My brain was thinking that perhaps our Kiwi friends might think it a bit odd to hitch up ones children to large drums of water and ask them to pull it across the snow. It is even more fun when they help with the fire hose and get all iced up!
We brought our Kiwi friends to a neighborhood New Year’s Eve party and they got to experience some proper down home French Canadian chansons a répondre. We sang “Chevaliers de la Table Ronde”. Anyone know it? It is a hard core drinking song. I shared that it was one of my favorite childhood songs; my dad used to sing it to me as a bedtime lullaby. A lot of people laughed. Hmmm…
I guess we Canadians are a strange lot! But we are fun and we are friendly and we are adventurous!And our Kiwi friends will get a true Canadian experience with crazy people like us living next door, inviting them to everything. And they are yes people, so they will really have a good time! I can’t wait to take them skating on the canal in minus 30 degree weather so they can experience frostbite (and maybe a Beaver Tail to make it all worth it!)