I’ve been watching the snow drift past the window for hours now. There are a host of things that snow reminds me of that are pleasant and if I let my mind wander, wrapped in dim light from a single lamp and the warmth of a blanket, the flakes endlessly swirling under the streetlights bring them all to sharp focus.
- Narnia. Lucy and Tumnus arm in arm under the lamppost. The White Witch in her sledge.
- Christmas Eve. Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole on the stereo in my parents’ house with only the tree lit. Trying to sleep with anticipation thrumming excitedly up and down my spine.
- ‘A Christmas Carol’.
- White Christmas.
- Tony Bennett’s ‘Snowfall’. It sounds exactly like the vocal representation of drifting flakes.
- The Singing Christmas Tree performances in the church where I grew up. Choir, orchestra, actors, angels from the rafters, late nights with friends.
- That time a friend and I skipped class to build an homage to Calvin and Hobbes’ ‘Snowman House of Horrors’ on the front lawn. We were in high school. It was ridiculous amounts of fun.
It’s funny the disconnect between how we view things as children and how we view things as adults.
When I was young snow was always thrilling, always beautiful, always held the promise of adventure. School might close. Snow angels could be made. Toboggan rides down the hill in the neighborhood park were a certainty. Hot chocolate would be consumed. Christmas was definitely coming. Santa! Presents! Candy! Holidays! Grandparents! Plays! Snow represented delicious things and was only ever a beacon of hope.
Now that I’m an adult, especially living in Edmonton where snow is not a rare occurrence but an absolute that closes the city in a chokehold from November to March or longer, snow is a nuisance. The first snowfall is a bother, a thing we’d hoped would hold off for another month or week. All it represents now is hoping the plows get to your street before you have to attempt to drive out of your neighborhood. Extra minutes added to your commute. Frozen fingers. The knowledge that very little time (and money) remains before Christmas demands your fullest attention. The glaring holiday ads. The inability to enjoy outdoor activities without a ski pass. Accidents. Expense. Inconvenience. Snow is now more or less a harbinger of doom.
And yet... nothing has changed.
The snow itself is as it ever was. A hundred million lacy patterns etched in ice spiraling through the air to pile silently on the ground. A cold white shroud to cover a multitude of unfinished projects and completed sins. The natural offspring of winter. If you catch a snowflake on your tongue now it will be same as it was when you were six. It will flare for the tiniest half-moment in ice before disappearing utterly. It is just as cool, just as indifferent, just as alight with glints of fire when the sun catches it as it ever was. And when the season breaks it will melt into just as many coursing rivulets as it ever did.
What changes is us. Me. I changed.
Somewhere along the line I allowed adult fretting to smother childhood glee until nothing was left but a tremendous sigh lasting from November to March, pausing only long enough to draw breath at Christmas: the one day snow truly belongs in an adult world. I dislike the adult version of winter very much. It is a harassment, a giant pain, a millstone that must be endured. But inside younger me persists and sometimes, every once in awhile, I look out the window and younger me forces her way up to bounce joyously in place at the sight of all those whirling flakes. Adulthood has robbed me of the ability to enjoy seasons but I’m reclaiming that early glee. In this - as in so many things, really - children really do have the better view.
When I kick through calf-deep drifts on my way to the bus tomorrow I will imagine I’m in Narnia and inwardly delight at expecting Tumnus along the way. I’ll look up to watch the millions of icy dancers in their downward ballet instead of looking down to the grey slush that our technology turns them into. I’ll try to remember that snow once held all the promise in my young world.
Gently drift down
'Neath my window
'Round my doorstep
('Snowfall' - Tony Bennett)
- Corinne Simpson