White Winters

A great number of people seem to associate snow with winter, which is, I suppose, reasonable, since it does snow during the winter in many regions of the world. But for those of us who have experienced limited snow, all this talk of white Christmases and so forth seems a bit abstract. December here is drizzly, at best; the real storms come in November and January, but not December.

It snowed in Greece when I was growing up, and I remember playing in the snow with friends and making various snow creations with my father, but once we returned to the States, I didn’t see snow for years until I was at [expensive East Coast college]. I still remember that first snowy morning, waking up to peer outside into a world which had gone white overnight.

But winter itself didn’t happen overnight. First came the frost, which I visualized as a layer which slowly seeped into the earth. I could actually feel the ground getting harder, as the grass froze so hard that it would snap under your feet when you walked on it. But that first snowy morning…it felt as though winter had finally come, at last, as though the frost was an extended overture. It was very early when I woke up, and only one thin thready line of footprints stretched out across the snow, so I leapt of of bed and ran outside, barefooted.

I still remember the crunch of snow under my feet, the moment when my feet finally got so cold that they felt like they were on fire and I ran back inside. My friends who had lived in the snow their whole lives laughed at me, but I didn’t care. I was delighted, entranced, filled with wonder. The snow makes me childlike, filling me with so much happiness that I think I might explode; a happiness so great that it is almost painful.

Maybe because I haven’t lived in the snow for years on end, I love it. I am insanely jealous of people who live in places where it snows. I miss falling down on icy patches, I miss plopping into piles of soft powder, I miss chasing snowflakes as they drift through the air, I miss sudden flurries so intense that I can’t see three feet in front of me. I miss the muffled silence that falls with the snow, the stark trees and sharp light. Having had a taste of snow, I will be forever wanting more.

It rarely snows here. If it does, it doesn’t stick. And by rarely, I mean every 10 years or so. More often, it hails, and the ground stays crunchy for an hour or so before it melts away. I really wish it did snow, because the snow is so very excellent. Our winters are long, and dreary, and dull. I already feel myself sinking into lethargy and depression, with dull grey skies and grinding cold weather but nothing that I can definitively point to as winter. We haven’t even reached the turning point of the solstice yet; I just want it to snow, or storm, or something, anything but this dreary, aching cold and greyness.

People who live in the snow always seem to complain about it. They say that they wished they lived somewhere temperate, but really they mean somewhere warm, where winter days are sunny, like Florida, not grey and heartbreaking, like they are here. When I lived in the snow, winter was my favorite season, for the clarity, the crisp cold, the whiteness, the beauty. Here, the winter makes me want to curl up and die. Instead, I just sleep and eat all the time, hoping to stave off the misery.

If you live somewhere snowy, you ought to appreciate it, for me if no one else. Go outside barefoot. Throw a snowball at something. Revel in this amazing gift from the skies. If your neighbors laugh at you, thumb your nose at them, because you are embracing the snow instead of moaning about it. As you look out into your winter wonderland, think that somewhere else in the world, someone is not as lucky as you are.