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400 Day LETS Odyssey
Copyright � James Taris

JAMES TARIS around the World- (2003-4)

I'd never eaten snow before. It was like eating a 7-11 Slurpy once all the flavour
had been sucked out of it.

CANADA - Kitchener (Wk.1 of 16 weeks)
Week 33 of World Tour

Eating Snow

Kitchener-Waterloo is a large town of 279,000 people and 105 km west of Toronto. I was told by my Welland hosts that I’d see more snow in Kitchener, and they were right.

Over the next 2 weeks I got to see what it was really like to live in a snow-covered town.

It snowed more often than it didn’t and the temperatures were almost always below zero, with lows of –26 C being quite common. This resulted in a permanent white layer of snow, about 30 cms (12 inches) deep, on everything.

The squirrels amused me. If you couldn’t see them, you could definitely tell where they’d been because you could see their tracks in the snow going from one tree directly to another. Squirrels can’t run through deep snow, so they have to jump to get where they want to go. And with each leap they disappear into the snow before jumping out again. The tracks they make are easily recognisable. The holes they make in the snow are about the size of our feet, but with 4 small footprints at the base of each one. And something else I didn’t know … squirrels live in nest made of twigs, much like a crows nest.

I hadn’t really been out in the snow in Welland. So my first walk through the snow in Kitchener was quite an experience. I was well rugged up for my outing, with boots, long johns, tuque (knitted hat) and mittens, so I felt very comfortable. It was dark by the time we got out and some Christmas decorated houses were still lit up, even though it was already January 12.

“Have you heard the sound of snow?” Lorne had asked me one time, and I wasn’t sure what he meant.

But on this night it was music to my ears. Of course, you can’t hear snow falling, but it makes a clean crunching sound as you walk through it. And being so cold, the snow stays dry, so you don’t get a soggy squish. Just a beautiful crunch as the snow compacts and becomes icier on impact.

I’d heard that you could eat snow, so I did the right thing and avoided getting snow from the sidewalk, and anything which looked vaguely yellow. My target was a thick freshly covered tree branch. And the taste? Very much like eating a 711 Slurpie once all the flavour’s been sucked out of it.

On our return home, I noticed that all the sidewalks had been cleared except for ours. In fact, Peter, our next-door neighbour was busy shovelling snow from his driveway, still finding time to curse the snow and sharing his hatred for Canadian winters with us.

“Each household has to clear their own sidewalks,” Kit said. “In fact, we’re legally liable if someone injures themselves in front of our homes”.

Luckily for Kit, I thought it would be fun to shovel some snow myself. But after nearly an hour of snow-shovelling, I fully understood what Peter was bitching about. And these poor guys had to do this for 3 months of the year, EVERY YEAR!

It started off OK. I got a broad-mouthed plastic snow shovel and scooped large volumes of fresh snow onto the lawn and nature strip. But then I needed a standard garden shovel to scrape up to an inch (2.5 cm) of ice off the concrete paths. Fortunately the ice would break away in sheets as I scooped under it, but it was much heavier than the snow and therefore more tiring. And to make matters worse, Kit’s home was on a corner block, so we had twice as much clearing to do. So did we finish the job?

Are you kidding? We were lucky to get it half done … and then it was covered in snow again the next day!

I never thought I’d ever say this, but I’d much prefer to mow lawns than shovel snow. At least the grass takes much longer to grow than snow!

This article is taken from the ebook,
400-Day LETS Odyssey

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