Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
TITLE: Winter; Everything about it is obvious.
By Josephus van den Hoek
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I spent the last twenty years growing up in Australia. In your mind Australia is just what is; barren, desolate, dry and hot. That’s exactly how I experienced it. In fact because of its position “down under” seasons are reversed. December, the winter month of Christmas, is the first month of summer for the Aussies. Quite the reversal isn’t it?
As Christmas day approached I would begin with my most common Christmas prayer. “Please God , just keep it under 30 degrees centigrade. I can’t bear the thought of having Mums Christmas meal of , lamb, ham and roast potatoes with a temperature of over thirty degrees. I’d rather not sweat at the dinner table. I don’t want to get cranky because of the heat. I also don’t want everyone to have been drinking because of the heat before lunch even starts.”
Time passes, as do the seasons, summer, winter, autumn and spring. I found myself transported to the opposite end of the globe experiencing a winter of a different kind. Probably a winter much like yours; cold and wet. I now lived in Amsterdam , The Netherlands. As Christmas approached I found my self praying for a white Christmas. “Lord please , please give us a white Christmas. We have moved so far from home and we really are dreaming of a white Christmas. Lord for me it would be a sign that all will be well and that your are with us as we have moved so far across the world. Please Lord. This winter give us a white Christmas.”
At the same time we were rebuilding a house that we had bought and were doing pretty hefty renovations. We had to reinstall all our water lines throughout the house. Because we were not living in the house I usually blew out the pilot light of the boiler to avoid a fire when we were not around. “A pretty smart and a responsible thing to do” I thought to myself.
I remember looking at the long range weather forecasts. The week of Christmas promised average temperatures December 21st, 10 degrees centigrade. The same winter temperatures were expected everyday right up until Christmas. Too warm for snow.
“Hi. Mum it’s me! Merry Christmas from Holland! Yes, it’s just before 9 A.M. What time is it there? Oh, you guys are eight hours ahead. How was your Christmas? ( I knew it was hot and sweaty?) O.K. great ! No it’s not snowing. Wait just let me look out the window.”
As I looked out of the window my eyes began to fill with water and a tear dropped from my eye. It took me just a few minutes to get back to my mother waiting on the phone in Australia.
“Merry, Christmas Mum. It’s Snowing!”
That was my first winter in away from home. It snowed on Christmas day at exactly 9:00 A.M. as I was talking to my Mum on the telephone. “Thank you God, this is better than the Christmas rainbows at home”
At 9:15 A.M. I got a call from the next door neighbor of our new house”. “Mr. Convict? Hello, I Am Mr. De Winter from next door. I can’t help but notice water leaking out of your house onto the street. It is causing some problems because it is freezing and making the road outside your house very slippery.”
It was a cold Christmas day that winter. We spent most of the day doing the plumbing because this Aussie boy didn’t realize that freezing weather affected the pipes. Every pipe in the house had burst because I had blown out the pilot light on the boiler.
It’s a funny thing, winter. Everything about it is obvious; the cold , the rain, the gray skies. And yet it can be so unfamiliar.
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