For quite sometime now I have been on American soil. Every winter that comes, reminds me of my first winter break. My orientation to American society continues was amazing, funny and sometimes tough. Having experienced, Summer and Fall, this time the next in line is the dreadful Winter. I had some assumptions about winter, a time when the place is wicked cold, windy, snowy, and rainy. As the first semester came to a rest, I thought of preparing myself to face it. When going out with friends, I would propose that we not use the heating device in the car, I also tried to minimize the use of heavy jacket. I did not want winter to get me by surprise. It was anyway a courageous choice.
Growing up in Uganda, the pearl of Africa, we experienced only two seasons, wet (rainy) and dry (hot) seasons. Little mention was made of winter and even less was made known about snow except a few times in high school geography classes when handling the geography North America and Rhineland. The moment of reading about snow was gone for me. This is now me at the face of real empirical snow and winter. A few flakes of snow from Baltimore looked fascinating as I glanced at them through the window. My heartbeat was pushing me to run out and just dive into the snow to experience its fullness. I kept my heart calm, waiting for the right moment to come.
After finishing my examinations, I received a gracious word of Merry X-mass from my beloved host family. They warned that New Hampshire would be cold but that I should keep myself always warm. We hit the road with Andrew for New Hampshire, but we made sure that we visited as many cities along the way as possible before reaching that famous Winterland New Hampshire. Priority stops were New York City and New Jersey.
While it was freezing cold in New York City, even when my two heavy jackets could not keep me warm, I was constantly being reminded that it wasn’t yet cold. I tried to increase the layers of my jackets and clothing but this seemed to not work. So I started consoling myself with a Uganda phrase, that “Men never shy and they never give up.” So I gathered myself up to face the winter as a courageous Ugandan man would. The amazing thing in New York City was that everything appeared to be in motion; the city was windy, crowded and presented with a lot of displays. I was inexpressibly thrilled with happiness that I had at least set a foot on the soil of New York, America’s most sensationational city in the minds of most youthful Ugandans.
As we drove north approaching New Hampshire, the car thermometer kept alerting us about the temperature. It was falling towards -2oC, which was the coldest I had ever been in. I never knew that I would go even much below that. But at the foot of Mount Washington in New Hampshire it was – 15oC, we couldn’t travel up to its top because they expected the expected temperature -47.
All thoughts that came to my mind were about the lovely temperatures that I used to enjoy in Uganda as we lie on the imaginary equator line. I thought of the heavy jackets, gloves, and socks that I had with me in the car and felt confident for a few seconds. I thought that I was ready and prepared for winter.
Reaching New Hampshire, I had one of the most admirational welcomes ever. Uganda’s flag with the inscription “Welcome Francis” was waiting for me at the compound. This reminded me of the day I arrived to the United States and was welcomed by Andrew, who stood with Uganda’s flag in his hand waiting for me. I met a very exciting, welcoming, and accommodative family one would ever wish to meet. Most of the time very engaging debates would dominate the air waves of the home. Lot of New Hampshire friends were very nice to me, I fit in their midst as well as in New Hampshire just like a piece in a jig saw puzzle.
Before long, I noted that unlike Baltimore, I seem to be the only African around. In all my public ventures, I would not see any Africans on streets, stores even in churches, e.t.c. I wondered why they were not there. It was so hard a nut to crack; I thought it could be because of the tremendously cold weather. However, in Boston City, when we went to Harvard University for a tour and to attend a Christmas carols in Cambridge, that I saw a handful of Africans.
Everyone who met me would just intuitively know that it was abnormally cold for me. I could not hide way from the cold. But I had to keep things moving. The important thing was that love of everyone who was there for me keep me always warm always and jolly.
The next thing after the cold came snow. It was in Brookfield that I encountered snow to its fullness. For sure it was an amazing experience, full of fun and enjoyment. No wonder if I am to choose between, snow, rain, and sunshine, I would choose snow. Next on my to-do list was snow tubing. I went online on Google, Bing, and You Tube to look at how this was done.
The time came for us to go snow tubing Alan, Jeff, Andrew, and I set off for Moose Mountain. I hate to admit it, but it’s like snow tubing seem to be a proper game for kids but I enjoyed it more than the kids. At the end of the day, we had a lovely Ugandan style cooked chicken for dinner as we settled down from the lovely memories of Moose Mountain experience.
The winter was dreadful to me, and I had lots of anxieties about how I would manage it without support of everyone. The teasing and kidding made me even stronger to face the winter. But it’s gone now. Looking forward to spring and summer I hope they will be more lovely.