Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sugar Plum Fairy Land

Despite the fact that by birth I am actually a native Texan, I was raised with the firm belief that winter = snow. My family spent six years in Wisconsin when I was between the ages of about four and ten years old. Thus my young, developing brain took on the belief that during the season of winter there must be snow - falling from the sky and collecting on the earth, tree branches, roof tops, cars...

This belief lead to a great many years of disappointment after we moved back to Texas, when we did not have white Christmases. Even after that when we moved to Kansas snow was a rare commodity. Kansas definitely has the cold weather, and plenty of ice, but not so much snow.

On those rare occasions snow did fall, and even more rare occasions when it collected on the frozen earth and stuck around for a little while I felt that very familiar child-like sense of giddiness rising up in me. Snow! It's snowing! my mind would shout. Or sometimes my excitement would over-come me and I'd exclaim out loud. My excitement was often met by looks of surprise and responses of "Ah, yeah Steph. It's snowing." Thanks for stating the obvious.

Perhaps I didn't express myself clearly enough. There's snow on the ground - beautiful, magical, glistening snow on everything! The world has been transformed! The heavens decided to give us all a treat and frost the world for us today! Isn't it beautiful! Aren't we so blessed to live in a world where such a thing as snow exists? It's as if we get to live and play in a magical make-believe world of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Snow is the only weather phenomenon (aside from natural disaster - but I'm talking in a positive sense here) that can utterly transform the world over night. It amy sometimes seem there are times when all the leaves fall from the trees overnight. Or you may awake to discover that the spring grasses have become green again, but these events do not really happen over night; only outside of our awareness. Snow is different though. You may go to bed one night and the world may seem brown and bare. The next morning you open your curtains and - Voila! - like magic, everything is different. Like the changing of a backdrop in a play. The world is revived and new. Little flakes flutter through the air lifted by the breeze, the sun dances and sparkles on every surface. Or perhaps the snow is still falling and there is that sacred and unparalleled silence over the world.

Snow is like crystallized creativity; it's beauty and versatility are so inspiring. It's such a simple thing when you think about it - just frozen water vapor molecules - yet it provides endless possibilities. When I was a kid snow meant building great snow forts out by the street where the snow plows helped us start out with a giant mound of snow we could climb on and dig in. It meant dragging sleds to the rolling hills of the golf course for hours of sledding until our hands and feet and faces were numb and frozen. Snow meant building snowmen in the front yard - or one year after an especially late snow, a snow-bunny for Easter! Snow meant making snow angels and having snow ball fights. We all learned the lesson early on - don't eat the yellow snow - because every kid took breaks to scoop up a handful for a refreshing treat, straight from the glove.

Now I am not so much a kid any more and I live in Colorado so I have more opportunities to see and appreciate snow. But that has not taken away any of my child-like awe and appreciation for these magical little crystals. And I know I'm not alone in my love for the white stuff. Since moving here a year and a half ago I have learned about the existence of several more ways of enjoying the snow. Growing up I only knew about two ways of skiing: downhill and cross-country. Now I can think of five different variations off the top of my head, not to mention snowboarding, snow shoeing... the list keeps on going. The fact that winter sports keep growing and evolving tells me that people continue to be inspired by the pleasures of snow.

Perhaps I am not the only adult who opens her curtains in the morning to a freshly painted world and exclaims "Snow!" with wide-eyes and a quickened pulse. I hope I still do so when I'm 80. Here in Colorado I am blessed to have friends who share my passion and will throw inhibitions aside to go running and frolicking through a field of fresh powder with snowshoes flopping under foot and flakes flying up all around us, just to stop, pant, catch our breaths and go off running again.

As a tribute to my favorite, divine snow, and a way to shout my exclamations in a variety of ways, here is the word snow in ten different languages:

French: la neige
Spanish: la nieve
Italian: la neve
German: der Schnee
Dutch: de sneeuw
Greek: χιόνι
Mandrin: Xué
Russian: снежок
Swedish: snö
Arabic: ثلج

1 comment:

  1. What I find also great (not nearly as great as a sudden snow of course) is how fast the sun here can undo the whole thing. One day dry, then instantly snow, and 11am the next day it looks like it only snowed in the shade.