By Roseline Souebele
Winter is coming, bringing fear and anguish in immigrant communities. Before she comes, we do still have fall, with her alchemy of vibrant colors, but all of us are already worried about how we will deal with getting to work during the winter, what coats and boots we need, and where we will get them.
I come from Central Africa, more precisely from Brazzaville, in the Republic of Congo. There we have a tropical climate. Our dry season, the coldest we have, is nothing compared to winter in Maine. Back home, people get prepared for the dry season. They buy warm clothing for their families, as people do here – but if Mainers were to experience what is meant by the cold in Brazzaville, they wouldn’t even need to wear a coat! It is relatively cool, but still nice out. It’s a good time to harvest vegetables back home. We have no snow, although we can have dark fog in the morning. So, my relationship with snow is very special to me. Each time I see it, it’s as if it is for the first time.
I was very worried the first time I saw snow, asking myself if I was going to survive. It was at the end of winter. I remember sitting at my bedroom window, enjoying that miracle from heaven. Now, over a year later, I know what is ahead, and I wonder how I am going to deal with getting to school and work in the snow. Last winter, I am glad that I made it, walking almost every day throughout the winter to Portland Adult Education, sliding down the slippery road – without falling, thank God!
I am so impressed with the way Mainers have not only survived all the winters in the past, but continue to love winter. I hope I will get to that point, because I have made Maine my home.
Surely next year, when my children hopefully join me, I will be worried all over – this time about how to deal with winter for my kids. I will never get used to it, but that’s the magic about winter and snow. The whiteness of it, mixed in with the green of pine trees, mixed in with the lights of Christmas.
Roseline Souebele is a resident of Hope House, Portland