I miss snow. I miss touching it, forming shapes with it, having snowball fights with it, building ‘forts’ with it, lying down in it to make ‘snow angels’. I miss walking in it, even when it comes up to my knees and soaks my boots and socks from the inside and leaves my feet feeling brambly and looking like dried up prunes. I miss the ice too. Trying to walk over patches of it without falling flat on my backside was pretty difficult.
There was a bridge we had to walk over on the way to school. During winter, the river underneath would be covered with a layer of frozen ice, and we, feeling like the intrepid explorers that we’d been learning about in our World History lesson the day before, used to disregard the bridge altogether and climb down the steep, rocky hill that led to the river. Crossing the river always made us all nervous, though of course, none of us would ever dare admitting that; putting one wobbly step in front of the other, we’d carefully cross over the ice, trying not to think about what would happen if the ice were to crack and the gushing, freezing water were to engulf us in its downstream path. After all, it had actually happened to a boy, not someone we knew thankfully, but someone our age nonetheless, someone whose body had not been recovered, someone whose thought we pushed to the back of our minds while making the crossing. After getting over the ice bit, the only thing left to do was climb back up the steep, rocky hill on the other side. Definitely not easy when everything had a layer of icey frosting over it. And so, we would eventually arrive at school, looking like we’d been through a warzone, resembling nothing the clean, healthy kids our mothers had waved goodbye to earlier. But, boy, it felt good! The sense of adventure, of doing something we were told not to do, left us feeling brave and brassy and more than a little bit cheeky.
I miss the howling winter winds of the north. I remember getting up at night, looking outside my window, down at the tennis court layered with snow, which would once again be green after the snow plower finished with it in the morning. I remember putting my nose agaisnt the cool, chilly glass of my window, feeling the tip of it freeze a little, and watching the swirls of snowflakes whirl down to the ground almost lazily, after floating arabesquely around the air. The wind would be fierce; I remember waking up to the sound of someone moaning or crying in pain. It took me a while to realise that that was simply the wind outside, howling with intensity, raising the tempo of the dance of the snowflakes.
Winter had always seemed so magical, no matter how much we moaned or whined when the temperature first hit 0 degrees Celsius around November each year. Ever winter morning brought with it a ritual of sorts. Wake up, tip toe slowly to the washroom, shivering all the while, wash up and tip toe back to the room, still shivering. Turn on the TV to the Weather Channel, check out the Highest and Lowest temperatures predicted for today, and listen to the Canadian meteorologist crack a few corny jokes about snow and winter which I didn’t quite understand. Stand in front of the closet, deciding how many layers to wear, which sweater makes me look a little less porky. Dress slowwwwwly, while half considering going back to bed and put on a couple of socks, grab the bag, put the boots on and leave. Wait downstairs a few minutes for my friend who I’d walk to school with but start walking, deciding she must’ve gotten tired of waiting since I was late AGAIN. On these mornings, I didn’t have time to be a kamikaze explorer, so I shuffled over the bridge rather than the icey river, reaching school just as the bell rang.
It’ll be 6 years soon. I’ll go back one day, that much I know for sure. And when I do, I’ll still play in the snow, fall over the ice, cross the frozen river with trembling footsteps, and wake up in the middle of the night to look outside my window at the winter carnival. But this time will be different. This time, I won’t just stand at my window, I’ll go out and join the snowflakes. And I WILL understand the corny Canadian weather jokes.