Episode 7: In which Mim sees her first snow
“Leave!” she screamed, taking me by the shoulders and shaking me violently. “Get out of here before it’s too late!” My housemate Maïté had lived through it many times before, but it still frightened her, sent shivers down her spine. Before moving to Montreal in August, people back home in Melbourne had warned me about it, too. The dreaded beast is called winter. If a native Montrealer was fretting for her life, how was I supposed to feel?
I have never experienced weather colder than minus five degrees. In some parts of Australia, it often reaches 40 degrees in summer. I’ve never been skiing and I had never seen the snow. Then, on Friday, I saw it for the first time.
I was sitting in my regular café, gazing out onto the sunny street when it happened. I first thought, that rain looks weird. Why is it white and why are the droplets drifting in all kinds of directions? Surely there was a reasonable explanation. Like, a delivery truck carrying a thousand pillows had crashed and exploded, sending a billion tiny linen specks floating down Mount Royal Ave. Blinded by my snow-virgin status, I was a bit slow on the uptake. Finally realizing what I was seeing, I speedily frolicked out of the café like a kid chasing after an ice-cream van. I stared up into the clear blue sky and watched the sparkling white specks fall to the ground. It felt like a “The Gods Must be Crazy” moment. If you haven’t seen the film, it’s essentially about an isolated South African tribe who witness a Coke bottle fall from the sky and land unbroken on the earth. Having never seen a bottle in their lives, they are completely bewildered. I imagine that the look upon my face wasn’t dissimilar from theirs.
I stuck out my hand to catch a snowflake on my finger, but the one I got must have been a dud. I thought it would look like the ones I’d seen in the movies. Instead, it looked like a fleck of linen. When people began bumping into me on the narrow footpath and giving me looks of, “it’s just snow,” it was time to go inside. I told the barista whom I often chatted with that I’d just witnessed my first snow. She congratulated me.
Then, on Sunday, it really snowed. I woke up to a view of a white-blanketed Le Plateau with a foggy Mount Royal in the distance. That day, for the first time ever, I made a snowball and walked on snow (like an awkward tip-toeing toddler). I look forward to ticking off many more “firsts” on my “winter novelties” list.