My Most Canadian Story (So Far)

Hey all! Been taking a break right now to focus on my health so I have been slow in coming up with posts. But I had this moment that just hit me as the most Canadian story I have had so far. Read on to find out what it is!

How Things Started:

I had been recovering from my second COVID-19 shot for a few days. My main problem was fatigue, but I was slowly recovering from that. I wanted to go on a short walk at one point, so my Mum said she wanted to show me this little place by the Elbow River. Lately, when I walk by the river, I have been finding these little hidden spaces where I can just stay and watch the river without any interruptions. I am really into that! So, Mum decided to show me a new place by the river that she found and I was excited to check it out.

One significant part of the story is that my Mum took her cane with her on the walk. Remember the cane! We were about a block away from the river when we heard some geese calling. It was a constant call, so we didn’t know what to make of it. We’re used to hearing magpies having corvid parties, so we thought the geese were just having a party on the river.

Then It Got Serious…:


As we got closer, we saw two adult geese by the fence in front of the bench that overlooked the river. They were the ones constantly calling. When we saw some goslings in the river, we pieced it together that these adults were the parents of these goslings and were trapped. They were pacing up and down alongside the fence calling to their babies.


On the left side of the fence, there was a tree that blocked any immediately visible view of the riverbank, so the geese thought they had no way to get to the river. On the right side of the fence, there was a gate to someone’s backyard, which we thought at first we couldn’t open. The geese couldn’t squeeze between the bars of the fence or under the fence either. The parents couldn’t fly because the space was narrow and geese need a sort of “runway” if you will, to take off. 

Those parents clearly didn’t want to do anything that would make them lose sight of their babies, even for a moment. I don’t know how they ended up there, but we knew we had to do something to try and help. What was fortunate for the goslings was that there were other goose families near where they were swimming on the river. The other geese weren’t too close, but they were close enough in case something happened to the goslings. 

The Plan:


Normally, I save the phone number to an animal rescue place as soon as I move someplace new in case I see a sick or distressed wild animal. I found out after moving to Calgary that it’s not possible to call an animal rescue place right now. They are all closed due to the pandemic. So, I knew that wasn’t an option to help these geese. Plus, the longer the parents were from the goslings, the more distressed they got. So, Mum and I began to think of a plan. It was so lucky Mum had her cane with her. She let me take it and get closer to the geese to try and herd them. Mum stayed back to make sure the geese couldn’t get into the road. They could have hurt her more easily than they could have hurt me.

I approached carefully because every Canadian knows this hard and fast rule: our geese are assholes. I tried to herd them around the tree a couple of times, but it didn’t work because they were between the bench and the fence. The goose closer to me did hiss at me when I approached, but it wasn’t too bad. I backed away at first, but then I kept trying. I was wracking my brain for other ideas.  

Then Help Arrived:


There was a guy across the river who was watching this thing unfold and he called to us, “Go, girls!” or something like that. I assume he was trying to think of something to do about the geese before we arrived. Then, this woman came out of the apartment next to the river and tried to help us. She stood at different places to help me herd the geese better. One of them walked around the tree and found its way back to the goslings. Mum noticed the goslings crowded around its parent. The second goose was trickier. Eventually, the woman helping us opened the gate to the person’s backyard and the goose walked in and found a way to the river!


I was so glad that worked! How many Canadians does it take to herd a pair of geese? I was afraid I was going to have to pick up those geese to let them fly over the fence! That thought was especially scary because 1. They bite. 2. Those wings are strong enough to break your arm. I don’t underestimate how strong wild animals are and I just got over the geese hissing at me thank you! The only reason they did a “light hiss” was that I was nowhere near their babies. Plus, they didn’t have the room to lunge at me.

Afterwards, I felt like I just performed First Aid or something. Mum and I decompressed by watching Fly Away Home. That really has been a significant movie for us, especially for this move to Calgary!

Final Thoughts:


This could have been so much worse if a predator had got either the parents or the goslings. Or, what if it was the goslings behind the fence? It’s clear that imprinting goes both ways. It’s not just the parents imprinting on the babies, but vice versa. After the parents joined the goslings, they all swam down the river with their babies as if nothing happened and Mum and I sat on the bench and watched them.

Do you know the expression “herding cats”? Well, I have officially started saying “herding geese”. When I was trying to herd the geese, I tried to think of how they herd the geese in Fly Away Home. Then I realized, they make herding geese look easy! I’m glad I didn’t have to touch them.

One time I was at a beach in Santa Cruz, California eating a sandwich. This seagull came up right behind me and stole my sandwich! The one time I’m mugged is by a seagull! The seagull gave me a dirty look like, “This is MINE now!” Anyone who has seen Finding Nemo knows that to be true. The thing that I remember was the seagull brushed me with its wings. Don’t take “brushed” lightly. I felt how strong that bird was! I don’t underestimate wild animals, even small ones.

This is the most Canadian I have ever felt. I saw comedian Dave Hemstad talking about the news item about the Newfies saving a shark who was choking on a piece of moose. Best Quote: “An Inuit and a Quebecois would have to make love in the prairies on a bed of maple leaves using Tim Hortons as lube to have a more Canadian moment!” Nailed it! The routine is on CBC Gem if you can access it.

Last Note About Wild Animal Encounters:

I am not advocating that you should always try to help a wild animal in obvious distress by yourself. I already said I didn’t have the option of calling a wildlife rescue place. One thing I have found to be significant about Canada is you live in closer proximity to wildlife, even in the cities. So, it’s even more important to know what to do when you have a close encounter with a wild animal, especially one in distress or pain.

I know there are hard and fast rules about what to do when you see a wild animal that’s distressed or hurt, but sometimes, you have no choice but to step in and help. There are basic things you can do without training, like what just happened. I have found Canadians seem to have a better idea of how they can help wild animals because they encounter them frequently. That’s not to say stupidity doesn’t happen though. I am thinking of learning more about what I can do in case I ever need to help a wild animal again and I don’t have the option of calling in the experts. And okay, I know geese are jerks that crap everywhere, but I couldn’t stand by and watch those goose parents distressed being away from their babies.

Was this story Canadian or what? Let me know in the comments!

Fifth Month Theme: Spring? What? Confusion All Around!

This is my weirdest month so far! Plus, I had some culture shock going on. Read on to find out more!

What is Spring Like?

How do I answer this? People ask me about spring, but I can’t give direct answers. The best I can do is send photos. The river started melting and I got snaps of its progress. I’ve included ones from last month to show the progress. I feel like sometimes I’m snapping the receding ice shelf in Greenland.

February 15:

February 28:

March 10, 13:

There was a big melt and we decided to call it the Canadian Slush Fund. Then it froze when the temperature dropped. At least the city cleaned it up so it wasn’t so slippery.Β 

After the big melt, grass shoots started growing! We were stroking them lovingly. I didn’t realize how much I was craving the sight of green, living things. Although, my favourite shirt to wear at the moment is green with flowers and paisley. Plus, when I went to get some clothes for warmer weather, I gravitated to ones with flowers on them. Now I know to get house plants next winter. Evergreen doesn’t satisfy my needs for seeing green, living things because let’s face it, sometimes it doesn’t look green.

What can I say about the temperature? It gets erratic. The hottest it’s got is just between 10 and 20 degrees C, which is typical for cold weather in California. Then all of a sudden, it’s subzero again. At no other time has the phrase, “Don’t like the weather? Wait 20 minutes.” been more applicable.

It makes me laugh how there’s “spring” here just like there’s “winter” in California. One minute, I am walking in the sun, getting warm weather clothes, seeing grass shoots and nesting birds. The next minute, it’s plunged into snow!Β 

How do I Feel About Snow Now?

This video sums it up. I’m going to watch comedy until spring comes back!

My feet are a mess after shoving them into boots for five months. I am glad I used to be a ballet dancer though because I know how to take care of my feet. However, I have had to change up how I take care of my feet and I am still learning. Does anyone have any tips for that? I am so glad I got a footbath for my birthday! Right now, I feel like I need a major pedicure. Recently, I saw a comedy skit that talked about winter foot. Okay, too much!

I have been making a point of staying warm during these erratic temperatures so that I don’t weaken my immune system. I will be getting the COVID-19 shot in either May or June. Yes, I have pandemic fatigue, but I keep telling myself I need to hold on just a bit longer.Β 

A few days ago, I woke up, saw it had snowed and said, “I knew it!” I said it while laughing but felt annoyed too. Sometimes, I am quoting the above video so I end up saying, “Oh F**K!!” I took a photo of the snow, sent it to my friends with the following caption:

I did not photoshop this!

And Now:

I am writing this when there are warnings for both high wind and a snow squall for the next 24 hours. I hope this is just March going out like a lion. One thing has made my month. I found Cadbury Creme Eggs! They made my Easter back in England and it’s been 8 years since I have had them! Sugar binge!

It helps to laugh at this situation though. I have heard this season being described as “After Winter” or “False Hope”. I have created responses to the question “Is it spring?” according to how certain politicians would spin it. It’s all in good fun. When you get a situation where you don’t know how to answer, it’s funny to remember people actually make this their existence. I heard this is the warmest year on record, so sometimes I wonder if I am in for a shock next year?

Some Things to Look Forward To:

Once my feet recover a bit and the warm weather stabilizes, I am going to get out more and enjoy nature. The other day, I was in NW Calgary near the Bow River. I don’t see as much of the Bow River as I would like. I frequent the Elbow River more. Anyway, I saw what I think was a hawk there! It was hard to see or get a good photo of it. Plus, I heard a lot of geese and ducks calling. The Bow looked really beautiful at this time when the ice was melting.

I want to explore more of the Bow River. Plus, I hear that bald eagles are starting to next at certain points of the Bow. Additionally, golden eagles will be migrating back to Alberta soon, and I want to see them too. Watch this space!

Immigration Was Weird Too:

I applied to extend my stay here this month. This is the first time I have had to deal with immigration paperwork completely online. When I applied for UK citizenship, I did it on paper. It was only a couple of years after the first iPhone came out. Life was just starting to go digital, but the Home Office hadn’t caught on yet. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer pen and paper.

Since my Mum and I were applying together, we had a joint online application. We had to apply to extend our stay 30 days before our status expired. It was over a month ago when we started preparing our documents. Then, all of a sudden, the system wouldn’t let me upload my application form. I tried different solutions to figure out what was wrong. I must have refilled my application several times and checked it over several times a day. Anyone who knows me knows nothing gets me testier and worked up like immigration paperwork. Every day, I reached an impasse. We tried to find out how to do a paper application, but the IRCC website was super cryptic. Plus, the IRCC has to grant you permission to do a paper application. It didn’t help to email them or call them either.Β 

I didn’t think to Google the answer. I assumed because it was a secure system that tips for applying online weren’t allowed to get posted on the internet. Then, the last day to apply came around and we were just about to give up the online application and send a paper application by courier. Out of desperation, I Googled it and realized I had ticked the wrong box on my form! The relief!

And Another Thing About Immigration:

I know six-month cut-offs for certain visas are a common theme around the world. Here’s why I hate it. It’s like governments know that around the six-month point, you’re likely reaching a low point with adjusting to a culture. Therefore, they require you to apply to extend your stay when you’re already under a lot of pressure. I knew in February that I was going to hit that low soon. It hit me when we were struggling to apply to extend our stay. Fortunately, it’s not the first time I have been through this, and my Mum was supportive. She let me vent, cry and have some time to chill. Then, the next morning, she asked me, “What happened?” That question was a great way to unpack everything. I’ll be doing the same for her someday.

Right now, I’m not ready to say exactly what happened, but I will do a post on how to survive that culture shock dip. In the meantime, I’m going to eat some Cadbury Creme Eggs and watch Canadian comedy while waiting for the weather to pass.

Weird Winter in Calgary so far. Um, what? Normal, hey? πŸ€”

I wonder if this post will bust some stereotypes about Canadian winters. So, here goes!

Before I Moved:

Okay. I admit it. I fell for certain stereotypes about Canadian winters. Living in California for seven years after living in London didn’t help me to challenge those stereotypes. When I did tutor training, I watched this TED talk called The Danger of the Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I watched it again after I moved because I knew I was going to have experiences that challenged my preconceptions about Canada. What really resonates with me is how honest she is about the times she has fallen for the Single Story. She also talks about how she has been treated because other people had a Single Story in their minds. Here’s the video of The Danger of the Single Story below if you’re interested.

What I initially thought about Canadian Winters:

Okay, a disclaimer before I show these photos! It doesn’t help stereotypes to always have snow in memes when you’re talking about Canada!

Expectation:

Expectation of Canadian Winter
Source: Facebook

Cold right? It’s also funny!

Reality:

Source: Buzzfeed

Okay. 5 degrees isn’t exactly shorts and sandals for me personally. I can go out wearing a down jacket and carrying a sweater with me just in case it gets colder. There was no need to layer up though. I was rather proud of myself for taking the garbage out in my hoodie at -10 degree weather during my quarantine period and I wasn’t even cold! My friends in California balked when I told them! I did think that winter was going to be constant sub-zero temperatures. My imagination told me I would need to layer up every time I go out, and that there would always be thick layers of snow. Boy, was I wrong! 😱 One good thing is that I have friends in Calgary who did tell me a bit about the winter before I moved. They didn’t tell me everything though, which I appreciated because I wanted to discover some things on my own. I knew about the need to layer up when it was subzero though. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos on the subject. My friends talked about chinooks too but didn’t say too much about them. I learned more after moving. Read on to find out what I have learned so far this weird winter!

October Weather:

As many of you know, I arrived in Canada in mid-October. You can read my first impressions of Canadian winter in my following posts:

Flying Internationally and Locally during COVID-19

Calgary Quarantine Diaries: Week 1

Calgary Quarantine Diaries: Week 2

First Month Theme: Is This A Thing?

After I arrived, it snowed for 3 days straight! I was just pissed off that I couldn’t go out for a walk to enjoy it because I was in my mandatory quarantine period! I figured there would be more big snowfalls later on, BUT so far, there haven’t been any other snowfalls as big as that! If you have questions about driving in the snow, I can’t answer them right now. I made the decision to not drive this winter. First of all, I have to figure out the process of getting a driver’s license. It’s dependent on your immigration status. Second of all, the only time I drove in the snow was when I spent a Christmas at Yosemite. My plan is to get used to driving in Canada in the “summer” (such as it is)πŸ˜‚. That should give me time to learn about things I need to do before winter hits again.

November Weather:

After my Mum and I were done with quarantine, we had to pick something up at Best Buy. The guy who helped us noticed we had US government I.D. He welcomed us, asked where we moved from, and then asked how we liked the weather. I said it was beautiful! He said, “You like our weather? Wait 20 minutes.” Now I know that’s a common thing to say in Calgary. He ended up talking our ears off about the weather and climate in Calgary and Alberta! The main points were that he has seen it snow in July, and people sunbathing in November. This was the first time we found out that chinooks can give you migraines because of the sudden change in barometric pressure. I got him talking about the weather in Alberta when I told him about this reel I found on Instagram!

He said Lake Louise gets much deeper snow than Banff. I am hoping I can experience all of that and more in the winter soon! The snow that fell during my quarantine stayed for a long time, and we did get a bit more snow in the second week of November. Here are some more snowy November photos, but they weren’t taken all at once.

My favourite time was when I was taking a morning walk and the trees were covered in hoarfrost!

What I really love about Calgary is it’s sunny! I wasn’t expecting that as much because Calgary is 51 degrees North. It’s the same latitude as London and I would describe that city as anything but sunny. If the temperature is low, it doesn’t really have an effect on melting the snow. I was at the Co-op once and I saw this bit of clever advertising from Cal & Gary’s. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Later in the month, I was kind of curious why we weren’t getting as much snow as I thought we would. My Mum and I went through a rough time in late November. It would have been super nice to have had some snow to make things beautiful!

December Weather:

The month changed and I was still incredulous about the weather. Were we going to get snow soon? I felt like Calvin and Hobbes when Calvin is simply desperate for snow! I read this article about speedskaters practicing on a lake in Alberta, and I thought, “What?” There was no sign of it snowing in Calgary, much less the river freezing!

Then, I remembered that Calgary has its own microclimate that has actually been significant in its history. The Blackfoot and the MΓ©tis would hold gatherings where the Bow and Elbow rivers intersect. If you think about the rest of Alberta’s climate, you begin to understand why they chose this nice little microclimate!

In the first week of December, we had a chinook! I’m not kidding. I used to think they happened in the spring, but apparently, there were some warm temperatures around Canada that week. The temperature broke an 81-year old record. I heard that in general, Calgary gets 2 or 3 chinooks in a winter. Last year, I heard they got about six chinooks. I feel sorry for the people who get migraines! I personally don’t get migraines, but my Mum does. I get ear pressure though, which is pretty painful! During the chinook, I popped my ears and got a nosebleed. I kid you not, AccuWeather has a migraine monitor. I find it useful to look at even if I don’t get migraines because I can plan for ear pressure too. It did eventually snow, but it wasn’t a long snow shower. The overall temperature is colder now though.

Final Thoughts:

A friend of mine told me there are four seasons in Calgary: Almost Winter, Winter, After Winter and Roadworks. I would say after December’s chinook that we went from Almost Winter to Winter. There is a standing joke here about only being able to tell what the weather is going to be by looking out the window. Okay, I don’t really get it right now, so bear with me, please!

I got some weird questions about life in Canada during the winter after I moved. I never miss a chance to nicely tease my California friends for asking me those questions though! 😏 One of my theories for this weird winter is that I brought some California weather with me to hold us for a while! To my fellow Calgarians, you’re welcome!

I have learned not to say anything about future weather predictions, particularly for snow. No jinxing for me! Any time someone says we’re expecting some kind of weather, I say, “What are you talking about? What… (fill in the blank with either chinook or snowfall)?”

A Word on Canada Geese:

I thought when I moved here that the geese would have migrated and I would miss seeing them. Not true. There are still some geese here who haven’t flown south yet. Don’t believe me? The photos below were taken this month! The reason why I thought they would be gone was that in the movie Fly Away Home, they go south with the geese in late October.

I often take walks along the Elbow River, so I see geese congregating there before they fly south. What’s really strange is I hear them going south when it’s dark out, and I’ve only ever known them to be diurnal.

I love seeing the city wildlife here! I’m actually doing an Instagram series of photos and videos of what I see. Follow me @winteroseca or follow my hashtagΒ #discoveringcalgarywildlife you can see them!

So, there you have my weird and wonderful Calgarian winter! What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments!