How do you explain a Canadian winter to your Nigerian friend?
Uzo and I discuss the flood that forced him out of his house. I sympathize with his predicament and comment that I have some understanding of living in rough conditions.
When I was a child we lived on a farm in Saskatchewan—no electricity and no running water. In the warm weather my dad lowered pails with butter and cream and milk down the well to just above water level and that acted as a fridge, but no freezer of course so vegetables, fruits, meat and chicken had to be canned.
Our house was very small – 2 rooms and we had to fight the cold in winter. Water came from a well and my mother melted snow in big pots on the stove to do laundry and wash dishes and bath us. If she hung clothes on the line to dry on a not quite so cold day, she warned us not to go near them as they could freeze and would break if we touched them.
I send him a couple of pictures explaining that in the first picture you see my sister and me. The building behind us is the barn. It was much bigger than our house. In the second picture you can see the ice that has formed on the horses’ nose. His breath has frozen from the cold. My dad pumped water from the well for the horses into a big water trough. In the winter the water in the trough froze and he had to chop a hole in it so that the horses and cattle could drink.
I comment that when our Malian friend came to visit one winter, he spent the whole time on the floor in front of our fireplace.
LOL! I probably would have done the same thing—add as much logs as I can to the fire. And yes, I think I remember Raymond. You mentioned him in your book, Mali to Mexico and Points in Between, right? So, do you guys drink more tea/coffee (depending on the consumer’s preference) during winter?
I tell him that I don’t drink either and I don’t think people drink more, but they do add hot chocolate when it’s cold.
You gave a vivid description of what winter feels like. I used to think it’s a little easier for white people to move about during this time of the year considering the texture of their hair, but it appears I am wrong.
Our hair does nothing to protect us from the cold and we need to wear many layers of clothing in the worst of winter. We live in Victoria now and don’t usually get any snow at all and it’s not very cold here especially compared to the prairies where we used to live.
Is it okay to skate on the ice?
Yes. In fact we did that with our children when they were little and we went to the Rocky Mountains. The ice was several feet thick and clear so we could see through it to the water below. Also there was a stream near our house and one winter it froze before the snow started so we could skate on it. Sometimes people go out on thin ice and do fall through.
Is there any place in Canada that is mostly cold like Alaska?
Up north for sure – don’t forget Canada extends to the Arctic.
Now I’m having second thoughts about walking on snow, LOL.
I think you would enjoy the experience—once!!