Sure, snow is pretty, but the thrill quickly wears off when frost bite sets in. When it's snowy, sleety and frigid, what are you going to do with guests who don't know what real winter is? I took them to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where the temperatures are balmy. Here two of my Australian guests check out the acoustic furniture on a curving floor in a special exhibition in the Bloch Building. In the foreground is Michael Cross' work, "Flood," which features light bulbs and brightly colored cables in vases of water. (Kids, don't try this at home!)
It was a dreary, cold, snowy night when we picked up our Australian guests from the airport in late December. To us locals, the snow was a nuisance, but our guests thought it was beautiful, like fairy dust, fluffy and bright. (It was soon dirty and crusty…)
The first night, the boys raced through the snow in the dark with a flashlight, making tracks. We’d gotten rid of our sleds long ago (probably in some garage sale for nothing!), but the next morning, the youngest boy found a piece of cardboard and “snowboarded” down a hill several times.
Squirrels were fascinating creatures. Cardinals and woodpeckers were exotic. It was wonderful to see the world with a new perspective. When I drove them around, I pointed out what I knew. They also asked me plenty of questions I didn’t know the answer to, so I spent some time online when we got home learning more about my own city.
We spoke the same language, yet we didn’t quite. Jumper, biscuit, council, fringe, bum. Familiar words, but with different meanings from American English. I’ve watched enough Masterpiece Theater that I knew what they were talking about, though. Thanks, PBS! New to me is bushwalking, which means hiking.
In Australia, they are surrounded by birds we only see in cages, such as lorikeets and parrots. There are marsupials everywhere, while we have only one — the opossum. They have mandatory voting and are fined if they don’t vote.
The Liberty Memorial is so tall you can't see the top!
They checked regularly online for the cricket scores. There was a big game in Perth, Australia, against South Africa. Australia’s national cricket team is the highest ranked in the world. Cricket is played in a hundred countries. High-level “Test cricket” games can last up to five days with time outs for lunch and tea. I still don’t understand American football, so I can’t begin to explain cricket. All I know is that they use bats and wickets, and that one of the incarnations of Dr. Who wore a cricket uniform.
We visited the National World War I Museum underneath the Liberty Memorial. Again, I saw the world through a different perspective. Their visit lasted too short a time. The next time I hope they can see our city in the summer. Soon I’ll be seeing the world from their point of view (and be a lot warmer, too) when we visit them in January.
What is Cricket?
What is Australian English?
National World War I Museum
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Our young guest from Sydney, Australia, contemplates the snowy view. Beyond, Auguste Rodin's "The Thinker" ponders the giant shuttlecocks that seemed to have landed on the snow in front of the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.