Red Looks Good on the Snow

Penny Pei


On a hot day in Xiamen, China, Penny Pei sees the only winter boots in the mall. Bright red, they will look good in the snow. A year later, in Halifax, she sees her first snowfall and wears the boots to play in the untrodden snow. But the soles aren’t non-slip. The next day she falls on the ice. The boots are like coming to Canada, where she must prepare for both good and bad situations.


Fall 2012. Xiamen, China

“Buy them! Red will look pretty in the snow. They make me sweaty just looking at them,” my friend Jenny said. 

It was a normal fall day in Xiamen, Southeast China: 30℃ and sunny, with clouds like cotton candy. In Xiamen, I couldn’t tell the difference between the seasons. 

With our summer dresses and flip-flops on, we escaped our boring afternoon class and were sharing an ice cream cone. In the lobby of the shopping mall, we found a busy market for clothes, shoes, bags and cosmetics. 

“Our ice cream is melting. Here, eat it!”  We were giggling, trying to get a free hand to shop. 

“You probably won’t find the right boots.” 

“But I need them. It’s winter over there.” 

My friend chuckled. “What else do you know about Canada?” 

“It’s super cold. It has a red and white flag and lots of maple trees!” 

“Wow, look at these.” Jenny pointed to a pair of fuzzy red boots with rubber soles and soft fur lining. They sat among summer sandals, high heels, spring flats and formal leather shoes. The boots looked like a silly red-faced, bulky guy surrounded by fit and charming beauties. 

I didn’t care. They were the only winter boots in the whole mall.

Winter 2013, Halifax, Canada

I wrote to my friend Jenny. 

“I just had my first snowstorm in my entire life! The wind was scary last night, but it is beautiful now. I’m going to put on my red boots and go out to play. I wish you were here.” 

I looked out the lobby window of our building. It was like a fairy tale world. Thick snow had fallen, and the world was covered by a white quilt. When I pushed open the door, cold fresh wind and snow blew into my face and drilled into my nose. 

“Oh my god.” I couldn’t help but smile from the excitement. There were no footprints in the snow.  

I took my first step gently and slowly. My red boots squeaked on the surface, then made a two-inch-deep footprint. “Ha!” I laughed. It was like stepping on a cloud. I opened my arms and ran. 

“Ahahaha!” I bent over, picked up some snow and threw it into the air. It flew back into my face. I looked to see if anyone had noticed me being so silly. White crystal pieces flew in the air. I sent Jenny pictures to show her how pretty the red boots looked in the snow. 

The next day, the snow was gone from the entrance of the building. Salt was on the streets, and dark, icy water was everywhere. The only snow left was on the grass by the road. 

As soon as I stepped on it, I knew something was wrong, but it was too late. I fell hard on the ice. My hand was bleeding, my fingers were cold, and my butt hurt. And because I hadn’t avoided the puddle, my boots were wet. Dirty, icy water soaked my socks and my feet. So gross! 

Now, after six years in Canada, I have worn many pairs of winter boots. I buy warm and waterproof ones, with non-slip soles. I never wear my red boots, but I still keep them. 

They remind me of my courage when I came to Canada. They remind me of my excitement, my happiness at seeing snow, and my embarrassment when I fell. The boots are like my life in Canada. I came with the naïve courage of not knowing what I would face here but feeling ready to face all the good and bad situations. 

PENNY PEI first arrived in Halifax six years ago and decided to live here because of love. Penny loves painting, music and taking care of plants. She is also curious about cultural differences between the Western world and Asia.

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