As the ice is melting into dirty-brown sandy puddles, I am reminded of the seven places I had slipped during ice season. The first two times were fun, as I had landed onto some soft snow — one time on my hands and knees, and the second, a slide down to my right side. Then there were those two awful slips on the ice-packed steps. I had landed on my derriere the first time, and then, landed in the supine position the second time. Still another, I was stepping up onto an icy curb and slipped off onto my hands. I wasn’t hurt, but felt disheartened enough to abandon my destination, turn around, and return from whence I came. The remaining two times were in close proximity on different days. Those slips both occurred on a long icy slope downhill on Voyennaya Ulitsa. No other Siberian slipped — only me.
In the beginning of every English class, I conduct salutations. That is, I turn to each student and ask how he or she is and other common questions. During ice season, one question, invariably, was, “Did you slip on any ice?” Most students, if not all, detested this question because it required a rather complicated answer. They had the choice of, “I was walking to school and slipped on some ice because I wasn’t being cautious” or the same, but in the negative. And at 9:00 in the morning, this was, especially, a huge headache for them. They would be required to repeat it, making many failed attempts, until they got it right enough. But I didn’t care. I made them do it for three months. Nevertheless, after the holidays, I had grown weary of their wincing, so I moved on to another common question. They never had to answer that question ever again.
However, one day, sometime in late February, a boy was tardy to class. Oh, he was, immensely, apologetic. So, I asked him why he was late. He replied, “I’m late because I was walking to school and slipped on some ice because I wasn’t being cautious.” Aahh, the sweet taste of English-speaking victory.
Melt — If something melts, it changes from a solid into a liquid because of heat
Slip — to slide by accident and fall
Ice-packed — all packed in ice
Icy slope — part of an icy hill
Cautious — someone who is cautious avoids risks
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