And Now For A Brief Respite

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

I try to stay informed about world events because that’s what grown-ups do, or some nonsense like that. I check out the news and treat my brain to a daily dose of WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON! I question our longevity as a species and my own sanity. When that joyful and fulfilling moment is done, I quickly try to forget any of it is real. 

I stick my fingers in my ears, hum a silly song, and tell myself it was all a bad dream. There’s absolutely nothing to worry about. All the troubling things are far away. It’s going to be okay, and there’s absolutely no reason to scream like you’re on the edge of hysteria.

Lies. Damn lies.

Can I make a silly confession? Sometimes, when I watch the news, I hear the Looney Tunes theme music. Not just at the beginning or end of the broadcast. No, the whole way through. Da da da, ba da da da…That, that, that’s all folks. Is it ridiculous? Yes, how is this stuff happening in real life? The rabbit blowing up what’s his name’s gun with a carrot is more believable than this.

Nope, this is real and the Coyote levitating over a canyon is fiction. Okay, I’m not going to lie, that freaks me out a bit.

You know what that means, right? I need to chill out. Take a breathe in and out. Let it all go. It’s fine. It’s all good. It’s going to be okay. I’m screaming in my head, and it’s very loud. But I’m all good.

Seriously though, I really do need to relax and switch my brain to chill mode. It’s been working overtime processing current events, emotional stressors and working through some serious topics for this site. It has reached its limit, and it’s threatening a complete system shut down. If I don’t take its demands seriously? Meep meep.

The point — spoiler, I have one— is that I need a break from the seriousness of life, and I need to enjoy a brief respite. Since I’m not the only one in this mood, let’s lighten this show up a little. Put away the big questions of life, purpose, and meaning. Ignore the realities of our current existence. I just want to remember how simple life used to be and the pleasures found in that simplicity.

Something as simple as a snow day, perhaps? Hm, yeah, that’ll work.

It is trying to snow right now. Small flakes are falling past my window. The wind blows, and the flurries whip around, swirling, rising back up, before falling once again. It’s mesmerizing and relaxing.


What was I doing? Right! I’m trying to write, but it’s hard to focus when the view is so peaceful. It feels like a cold blanket has been thrown over the city. Noise is muffled and distant. Some crows are causing a bit of a racket but, everything else has become still. Did everyone wake up, take one look out their windows, and collectively agree to cancel the entire day?

There’s an inch of snow on the ground so, watch out. It’s dangerous out there. You might slip and fall. Your car could skid out of control. And what about frostbite? Sure, it’s only -2 degrees C, but there’s no need to risk it. Not when you can stay at home, sip a cup of tea, and watch a movie.

Aren’t you Canadian? Yep. So, like, don’t you people live in snow caves year-round? Uh, I live on the west coast which means we’re better equipped to swim to work or convert our cars into submarines. We spend 90% of the year swamped by rain, not frozen by snow. That white stuff? Burr nope.

The funny thing is, so many people come here with the idea that we live under a hundred feet of snow year-round. Every summer, at least one car crosses the border decked out for winter. Skies and snowboards tied to the roof. Brand new snow tires that must’ve cost an awful lot.

They stop for gas and get out of the car wearing winter coats, scarves, and mittens. It’s 35 degrees Celsius because it’s August, and they’re so confused. Where’s all the snow? OMG, global warming is ruining everything! They came for some winter fun, but head home overheated and dejected.

I get it, Canada has been sold as a winter wonderland, and it is, in winter. But we have all of the seasons! Fall. Winter. Fake Spring. Second winter. Real spring. Surprise, it’s winter again. And, finally, summer.

So, you know, the usual.

Here in Vancouver, a snow day is rare. We don’t get a lot of practice dealing with these hazardous conditions. An inch of snow creates chaos on the roads. Our snow is wet, gloopy, and heavy. It has the consistency of a 7-11 Slurpee. It’s not even real snow! It’s slush, and it’s miserable.

It also makes us the punchline in the Canadian peanut gallery. The rest of the country has to deal with the real stuff. It’s miserable, awesome, super fun in a – holy hell, is it summer yet – kind of way. But snow here is wet and gross.

Fine, laugh at us all you want! 

When my family immigrated to Canada, we landed in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was the middle of February, and that was, what I’d call, a real winter. It had snowbanks taller than my parents and a chill factor that froze the blood in our veins.

It was a shock to my system! Coming from Cape Town, South Africa, where a cold day was 10 degrees C? Surprise, and welcome. But it wasn’t the first time I’d seen snow. We’d flown to Canada via Amsterdam, and that layover was pure joy. We had one night to kill, so we went into the city and stayed at a hotel.

There wasn’t much snow on the ground. I’d guess 2, 3, inches at most but for a couple of kids who’d only read about it in fairy tales? The stories were coming to life! The ground sparkled like diamonds. We could run and glide like the laws of gravity had been suspended. We flew across the snow. It was like magic!

My brother and I played on a small patch of grass, exploring this newfound treat, and a woman stopped to watch. She asked us if we’d ever made snow angels before and, of course, we hadn’t. We’d just discover the wonders of a snowball! Roll the snow up and chuck at someone. It explodes, and they squeal. That was pretty awesome. But, wait, we could make angels too? 

This stuff is so cool!

She lay on the ground and told us to do the same. Now stretch out your arms and legs, just like this. Got it? Good, now move them up and down. Up and down. Perfect, now get up carefully and see what you made.

We got up and looked down at the ground. Would you look at that? Three perfect angels had appeared right before our eyes. I don’t know if I’d ever seen anything so enchanting in my entire life. Sure, I was five years old, and my life experience was limited. But we made angels in the snow. Angels! 

The wow factor was amplified by a million.

Someone call her name, and she told us she had to get back to work. We thanked her for showing us the greatest trick ever and waved goodbye. She walked down a street with red lights and into a building with scantly dressed women in the windows. Turns out she was a sex worker in the red light district.

I’m not making any statements about her profession or the sex industry as a whole. When it comes to this subject? I’m incredibly naive, and I can’t speak with an informed opinion. That being said, everyone should be treated with respect and dignity. I don’t care what your job is. If you are kind and compassionate? I’ll treat you the same way.

And that seems to be the beauty of Amsterdam. I say this from the outside looking in so, if I’m mistaken, please correct me. When I look at the city, it has an evolved view of many lifestyles, and it appears to be a very inclusive place to live, work. It’s refreshing to see people treated with respect instead of shame and judgement.

Especially, someone who takes time out of their evening to teach a couple of goofy kids about snow. I don’t remember that much about her physical appearance, but I remember her laugh. It was throaty, kind of gruff, and her voice sounded scratchy, but it was light, full of  child-like joy. She had as much fun as we did, and she made that a memorable and precious moment.

Just thinking about her makes me smile because she was so kind to us. If there’s one thing I’ve learned? Never undervalue kindness. Big or small. Sweeping gestures or something accidental. When someone is kind, remember what they did and, more importantly, remember them because you might need that memory on a chilly day.

A day like today, perhaps? I’m still feeling insecure, and the world is too noisy, but I can look through my memory bank and smile. I need this moment, staring out my window at the falling snow. I need this memory to make me laugh and forget the negatives for a few minutes. It’s not as magical as a snow angel, but it’s pretty close.

Thinking about that woman…

I wonder where she is right now? Thirty years later. Is she still around? Is still working? Is she happy? I wonder.

I could create a story that’s idyllic and biased by my own ideas of happiness. In my mind, she earned enough money to go to college and pursued her dream career. Did she become a businesswoman who owned her own company? A teacher, she would’ve made a good teacher. What about a computer engineer? Of course, why not? She worked hard and went on to do incredible things. She met someone, fell in love, had a family, and they lived happily together in a home they built.

Again, that’s my ideal life, and it might not come close to her ideas of happiness. I don’t know, but I hope she is happy, loved, and safe. I hope she’s lived the life she wanted. I hope…Well, I just want her kindness to be rewarded.

Who knows, maybe on snowy days, she remembers two kids playing on a small patch of grass. She tells the story about how she taught them to make snow angels on her coffee break. She smiles, laughs that throaty, gruff, childlike laugh and wonders where we are now.

I just looked out my window, and the snow has turned to rain. This brief respite has come to an end. It’s time to get on with the day, but at least I found something to smile about. I even sighed! Well, look at that, I feel a bit content. 

It’s not a bad way to start the weekend.


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