I grew up in Delhi and am very familiar with snow. No, not in Delhi, obviously, but like many in India’s capital, my family, too, used to escape to the hills in summer.
Shimla, Mussoorie, and even Kulu, Manali. We used to look forward to leaving behind the heat and the dust and enjoy the cool, brisk weather with snowcapped mountains in the distance.
Occasionally, we’d venture higher up and actually play in the snow.
As we grew older, we’d make jokes about how the leading ladies in Bollywood movies were able to sing songs in the snow clad only in sheer chiffons – while the leading men were always protected against the elements in sweaters and coats!
So yes, I had seen and touched snow before moving to Canada.
But even then, actually living in a place where the entire landscape gets transformed into a winter wonderland was a novel experience. One which we embraced wholeheartedly.
We bought shovels and waited for it to snow so we could go out and shovel.
We bought toboggans so we could slide down slopes at a nearby park with our children. The low, smaller slopes only, but oh, what an adventure it was!
Soon we felt very winter-wise and knowledgeable. We knew all there was to know about winter. Black ice, freezing rain, wet snow (toughest to shovel!), et al.
That was until I looked out one morning and spotted giant paw prints in the freshly fallen snow in the yard. Larger than that of any animal I could think of.
Squirrels, rabbits and even a raccoon or two were regularly seen in our yard, but none of those creatures possessed paws that could leave such a large impression.
I called my husband to investigate, but the sight had even him shaking his head.
The next morning, there were more paw prints. Now I was getting a little concerned.
What was this giant creature that visited our yard each night?
What harm might it wreak?
That morning, I went across to the neighbour’s and asked them for help in solving the mystery.
Claire took one look at the paw prints and said, “These are just squirrels, nothing to worry about!”
Squirrels? Which squirrels could possibly leave such large paw prints? I was feeling a little silly in the face of her nonchalant attitude, but I had to know.
“I’ve never seen squirrels with such large paws...” I trailed off.
“Oh, it’s not the size of their paws,” she said, barely suppressing a smile. “It’s the motion that causes the large print.”
She went on to explain that when a creature ran across soft snow, the movement after each point of contact left a larger print than the actual size of the paw. “Sort of like the giant foot prints we leave in the sand on a beach!”
That did make a lot of sense. I thanked Claire for clearing my doubt.
“Thank goodness you didn’t see snow shoe prints in the snow at the park, you’d have been convinced you were seeing the Abominable Snowman (Yeti)!” she said with a laugh.
I didn’t dare confess that the thought had already crossed my mind!
– Sona Kashyap
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Posted: Feb 3, 2015