Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring in Canada

Before we left for Canada, the horrible stories I've heard about winter - how one needs to bundle up with layers after layers of clothing to beat the bone-chilling cold, how a bath-fresh hair should be blown dry before going out or how one should never stick out his tongue while outdoor else they will freeze, how an protected ear could harden, freeze and literally fall off without one knowing it, and many more -had been scaring the wits out of me. So when we received our canadian visa in October (winter was only a month away then) hubby and I had a very serious discussion on this matter.

With the best intentions for the family in mind, we agreed to come to Winnipeg in March 22 this year, just when winter is about to end and spring is just around the corner. Spring is supposed to be "less colder" so we did not bother to clothe ourselves with thick jackets. My friend had warned me not to underestimate the cold weather in spring but I figured that the fur-decorated denim jacket I was wearing then would be enough protection. As I stepped out of the airport in the middle of the night, I was jolted as my cheeks were kissed by a chilling wind. Horror of all horrors - it was minus 15 degree centigrade and the cold is penetrating like painful needles pricking the tiniest of my veins!

Going to the heated car that was waiting for us about 30 meters away from the airport entrance was like a walk in eternity. I was literally freezing to the bone. It was as if I am in the thick of a freezer turned to its coolest temperature! My fingers and my toes started to feel numb, my nose became stuffy and eyes were reddish with pain. We hurriedly hopped into the car, and despite the heater, it provided little comfort. Oh, how I wished we didn't have to get off anymore.

As we drove through the snow-littered stretch from the Winnipeg airport all the way to our pre-rented apartment, I wasn't very much impressed by the sights around me. Trees along the street pavements appeared barren and lifeless, with nary a single leaf hanging from the branches (twigs is a better term) having fallen off in autumn in preparation for the winter. The streets were slippery and slushy, with the frozen ice gradually clearing up for spring and eventually summer. The buildings (or warehouses is a better term) had facades that are as unexciting as the surroundings around them. All I saw around me is brown and white and gray and a little variation in between. I suddenly found myself wondering if we are in the right place.

When we went out of the car to walk the pavement that leads to our apartment, the weather was surprisingly not very cold anymore. Tolerable is a better description. I felt more relaxed and confident as we entered our pre-rented fully-heated two-bedroom apartment at Tyndall Gardens. Despite the absence of furnitures, our new home had an unexplained ambiance of warmth and life to it. The carpeted floor felt warm under my feet while the new
ly-painted walls felt smooth under my palms. The hot molo soup and chicken barbecue waiting for us were certainly a most welcome sight, courtesy of my good friend LA.

As my body clock was still adjusting to the new timezone, I couldn't sleep on our first night. I thus spent the night tidying up our luggages and busying myself with other things, hoping that sleep would eventually catch up on me. After three hours of fussing over things, doing this and that, I finally dozed off.

I woke up at around eleven o'clock in the morning to the soft sound of birds chirping by. Drawing the window blinds apart, I saw four of them playing in our balcony. The snow outside shone like crystals as the sun rays hit them, giving the surrounding a brilliant whitish glow that permeates all over. And there in the backdrop was a rainbow in very clear and lucid colors! Standing side by side with the brown lifeless trees lining the pavement that led to our apartment were a number of trees already in full bloom. The sight was just awesome, giving me a surreal feeling. It was as if time stood still. I wanted to hold the sight in my palm. I cried and said a prayer of gratitude to the one Creator who made all these sights possible. Suddenly, I felt home. All the fears I had were swept away, replaced by hope and peace and confidence. I had the sense that I am exactly in the right place and at the right time, as designed by God .

As Winnipeg is one of the coldest regions in Canada, we still had a "little" taste of winter over the next several days. There were residual snows everywhere, occasional hails, windchills and blizzards and the temperature without warning, would still drop to minus 20! To describe the weather as simply cold is an understatement. It was piercingly, achingly COLD to the bone! But the peace that had enveloped me since the first night had never left me. Deep inside, I just knew I could overcome the cold weather and conquer all winters to come.

Spring has now fully arrived and summer - when trees and flowers would be in full bloom - is something to look forward to. As the spring completes its full course, and as I see new life springing all around me from nowhere, so does my faith continue to leap. Spring symbolizes new life and to live is to trust. And when there is trust and hope and life is lived in prayers, nothing seems scary and insurmountable anymore.

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