February 4, 2013
A few months ago, Lesida moved in next door to me with her young daughter Furaha. It was the end of summer when they arrived here from Somalia, and when winter arrived I was worried. It being their first winter in Canada, they did not know what to expect, and they weren’t used to the cold. So one Saturday I took them shopping for winter coats, boots, scarves and mittens. Both mother and daughter were giggling while they tried on their new clothes, modelled their new outfits and took pictures to post on Facebook. They were so bundled up and I could hardly find them under the layers of clothing.
For Furaha, life was exciting. She was going to school and meeting new friends. She was adjusting well, and she couldn’t wait to see winter.
A few weeks ago, on a grey, snowy morning, I bundled up to take my dog Rosie for her morning walk and to play in the dog park. I knew she’d enjoy the fresh snow. I, on the other hand, grumbled quite a bit as I worked to put on the layers of clothing. I inspected myself in the mirror and smirked. I wore three pairs of socks, two pairs of pants, two t-shirts, a hoodie, a scarf and mittens. I was so bundled up I could barely move. It took me twenty minutes to get ready to go outside.
As I walked out the front door, I noticed Furaha running around on the front lawn. She was dancing in the fresh snow, not wearing a coat and with only socks on her feet!
Shocked, I called out to her, “Furaha, are you all right? What are you doing?”
Surprised, she stopped her cavorting and politely said, “Yes, miss, I’m fine. I love these fluffy white things! They are so pretty!” she sang out, “Just life fluffy feathers! And,” she added, “I’m trying to catch one of them so that I can send it to my auntie in West Africa.”
I had a hard time not bursting out laughing. This was a serious matter for this exuberant child.
“Well, then you will need something to catch it in,” I said. “Let’s go to your mother and see if she has something.”
There were a few snowflakes on her shirt and as we walked into the warm lobby they disappeared. Furaha did not notice as they melted away.
As we walked inside, Lesida came into the lobby carrying brightly coloured boots and a thick hoodie for her daughter.
“Mom, I’m going to get something to catch the white fluffy things in and then send them to auntie back home!”
Lesida looked at me with skepticism and I smiled awkwardly. How do you take away the awe of a child’s first interaction with snow?
All three of us and Rosie trooped back out into the snow again. When Furaha noticed that the snowflakes melted on the warm skin of her hand she was disappointed. But she solved the problem by taking pictures of the snowflakes to send to auntie.
Furaha’s innocence and exuberance gave me a renewed and exciting outlook on winter. Now when it snows, I think of Furaha and her enthusiasm. I catch myself smiling rather than frowning and grumbling about the cold and how I have to work so hard to get ready to go out for a walk with my dog. I remember the fun time she had when she first bundled up in her layers of clothes.
Furaha taught me a valuable lesson. Enjoy the beauty and fun of winter. It is out there. Just have a look.