Winter storms bring out the best in good snow-maritans

Help your neighbor in the snow.  Meet a stranger… make a friend!

2008_Dec 007

Snow fell on Vancouver Dec 16/17.  Here is our neighbor's heated driveway in North Vancouver.  It's not helping much, as you can see… – photo Todd Wong

The snows have been cold and deep in Vancouver since Saturday Dec 13th.  Winter Solstice saw even more white stuff fall on Dec 21st.

On a day when radio stations were sharing the message, “Stay home, if it's not urgent!” We went out for the annual Winter Solstice Festival.  The crowds were smaller than normal at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens, and there wasn't the normally l-o-n-g lineup for the candle light labrynth at the Roundhouse Community Centre.

After saying goodbye to our friends, and giving them rides to the Skytrain and the West End, my girlfriend and I cleared the sidewalk in front of her Kitsilano apartment.  We also cleared some of the snow around my car.  I climbed into the my car and turned it around.  I saw a small lone figure standing at the Eastbound bus stop.  She had stood there for much of the time we had been clearing snow… probably 30 minutes.  We hadn't seen any buses traveling on Cornwall St.  I stopped and offered her a ride to downtown, as I was headed to my parent's house in North Vancouver.

Fatima was grateful for the offer.  She said that a Skytrain station or Seabus terminal would be perfect.  I asked her where she was going. 

“North Vancouver,” she replied.

I told her I was driving across the Lion's Gate Bridge, and could take her there.  I quickly found out that she lived at 29th Ave. and Lynn Valley Road, and offered to drive her there.

Fatima has been in Canada for 17 years.  She is originally from Tehran, Iran.  She told me that Northern Iran always gets snow in the mountains, so she isn't unfamiliar with snow.  But this snow is playing havoc with her work schedule.  The previous day, the buses weren't running in West Vancouver's British Properties, so she had to take a taxi home.  And on Sunday night, it was cold and buses weren't running as frequently. 

It was fun to talk about our cultural back grounds, as she asked about my ethnicity.  She was very surprised to learn that my family had been in Canada since 1896, and that I was a fifth-generation Chinese-Canadian.  Fatima was surprised to learn that my great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan had been a Christian missionary to Canada, for the Methodist/United Church.  Fatima, it turned out, was Muslim.  She asked me about my spiritual beliefs, and I shared with her that I have attended many different kinds of
spiritual services, Buddhist, Christian, Evangelical, First Nations, and others.  We quickly found common ground in accepting that spirituality is important, and that there is one common God, spirit, universal energy – by whatever name people are using. 

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