I imagine Canadian children get a very different education than those of the Arizonan school systems.
I remember when my 5th grade class was learning about precipitation during Science Time. Precipitation, condensation, all that good stuff. My frizzy-haired teacher, Mrs. Jerrald, got distracted somehow (probably by that punk kid Ivan who always sat in the back. He was the class heckler) and tried to explain how moisture freezes when it reaches a certain temperature. Ice cubes were an easy enough concept to grasp, but we could not fathom how air coming out of our mouths could freeze into fog. (She should have used this link to explain it.)
We were so baffled:
“You mean we could really see our breath if it got cold enough?”
“Could we blow smoke rings like on Alice in Wonderland?”
“Could we make smoke signals?”
“If we all did it at the same time, would it make one big cloud and start raining?”
So intrigued were we by the idea that somewhere in the world, kids were playing with their very own breath-clouds at recess, instead of trying to catch the geckos that darted in and out of our sand forts–sand forts that would never hold together because…let’s face it: you can’t build anything out of sand without at least a little bit of water. (I actually remember running to the drinking fountain during recess, filling my mouth with as much water as it could possible carry, and hauling it back to the playground, spitting it in the arid dirt and hoping in vain it would help to concrete my masterpiece. It never did.)
I was always really excited by the notion that licking a metal pole might possibly get my tongue stuck to it. I tried. Lots of times. All I ever got was a gritty tongue that tasted like dirt and metal. The poles could have been made of lead, for all I knew–I was just bummed that my tongue wouldn’t stick.
The first time I really saw snow was when my family went to Flagstaff to support my mom as she walked through the line to accept her Masters Degree in Education (go, Mom!). I was twelve, I think. I tried making snowballs, but I didn’t realise that there are different kinds of snow, and some snow doesn’t hold itself in ball form. Instead, I felt gypped that the first time I consciously got to play in snow…it was broken.
It’s strange for me to think of raising my children (if, in fact, I do prove to be fertile [and if, thereafter, Poor Kyle and I do choose to reproduce]) in such a different environment than I was.
I didn’t grow up here. I don’t know why air comes out of our mouths and freezes. I don’t know why some people plug in their cars at night. I can’t explain which snow is the kind that sticks together decently–I don’t even know the basics of building a snowman.
How am I supposed to explain that where I come from, dirt can get so dry it will actually crack? That some plants soak up all the water they will need for a year at one time, and thrive? How will they possibly learn to pronounce terms like “Palo Verde,” “Casa Grande,” and “Carne Asada?”
Will they grow to crave the smell of rain like I sometimes do, or simply view it as pure, comprehendable, scientific precipitation?