If you stand under a streetlight on a cold light, and look up into falling snow, the falling flakes look like stars, shooting past you in a personal warp field. We’re told from childhood that no two of them are exactly alike, but how many of us ever stop to check?
I never did. But I’ve had meaningful experiences with snowflakes even so. I remember cutting lacy shapes out of doilies or white paper, making paper chains out of them, or covering them with silver glitter.
I remember walking my childhood dog, a poodle mix named Taffy, through the packed powder in Georgetown, CO, and then flagrantly disobeying my mother’s rules (and common sense), by taking her down to the frigid waters of Clear Creek, down behind the post office, where the bank was climbable, and the sandbars that were islands in the summer became mini-glaciers in the winter, and my friends and I would spend hours pretending to be arctic explorers, with Taffy playing alternate parts of either a sled dog, or a polar bear. After wards, we’d trudge home (because trudging is really the only way you walk through snow), and I’d de-mat her paws, and we’d cuddle by the fire, while I drank cocoa with tiny marshmallows.
I remember walking to school through snow that came nearly to my waist, and walking back home the same afternoon, on muddy grass, because the snow had already melted -such is the norm in parts of Colorado.
I remember sticking out my tongue to taste the first snowfall, and grumbling because it snowed on Halloween, and my costume was obliterated by the required winter coat.
I remember the first snow of November falling on the day of my grandfather’s funeral, and how my hands and chin grew numb as I stared at nothing, and held onto the flag that the honor guard had presented to my grandmother. Somewhere, I still have that flag.
I remember driving with Fuzzy over snow-drifted mountain passes, and then, later in the same trip, getting iced in at Kearney, Nebraska, on the way to South Dakota, when I moved out there to be with him.
I remember my first winter in South Dakota, newly married, isolated from my family, and surrounded by endless mounds of snow. I remember re-learning how to walk on ice, and goggling at block heaters in cars. I remember everyone teasing me, by saying, “Yeah, it’s cold. But it’s dry cold.
I remember traffic stopping in San Jose, a few years ago, when snow fell for all of ten minutes, a few days before Christmas.
I remember driving through the streets of Minneapolis, over Thanksgiving, 2003, as we led our friends to a favorite breakfast spot, and nearly spinning on snow-slick streets.
I remember driving from Sioux Falls to Minneapolis at the end of the same trip, and watching the snow turn into stars as the sky darkened from bright blue to deep grey, and then night-black.
All these memories are related to the simplest of things. Little flecks of ice that half of us complain about and the other half wish for.
This entry inspired by my LJ friend K.