I was a little girl of four years old living in a suburb of Winnipeg.  We had lived there for over a year, but after the mild dampness of my previous English home, I still wasn’t used to the changing seasons.  The dry summer wind cut my bare legs and I was seriously regretting my clothing choice as I stood beside my father in the backyard.
He was barbecuing.  I’d watched earlier as he’d set it up.  Stooped over the round, red orb he’d built a pyramid of coals, covered it in lighter fluid and struck a match.  Now I was only vaguely aware of the party going on around us as I watched him remove the metallic red lid and begin to flip burgers over the hot coals.  Clutched in my hands was my new pool toy; an inflated plastic ring.  Just a cheap dollar store item, but it was bright and colorful and felt pleasantly firm in my tiny hands.
I stood there silently as my dad flipped the meat.  I was fascinated by the sizzle each patty made as the new side hit the hot grill.  I could see the juices sputter and dance before falling to the hot coals.  I looked down at the ring in my hands and was suddenly filled with a question.
“Dad,” I asked.  “What would happen if I put my ring on there?”
I was always asking my dad questions like this, Winnipeg was proving to be a place of extremes that necessitated many inquisitive moments.  The previous winter I had learned what the giant chunks of ice were that had fallen from the sky, how dog poop had become suspended in ice in the backyard and where his mustache had gone.  But the barbecue had sent my mind racing with possibilities.
He laughed and in an offhanded way that only Dad’s can deliver, said:
“Why don’t you do it and see.”
Four year olds don’t get sarcasm.
I tossed the ring onto the grill.
The effect was instantaneous.  Where the previous moment there had been a bright, shiny floatation device; there was now a foul smelling, flattened mass that covered the entire grill.  I could see the shape of each burger under the plastic.
I stood there filled with fascination and wonder as the ring continued to melt and the air was filled with the sound of plastic crackling as it hit the coals.  My dad let out a shout of despair and somewhere in the background my mom screamed “Why did you tell her that, Norm?”
It was the best thing I’d ever seen.