The first time I saw snow, I was 22 years old. I grew up in a tropical country on a diet of English stories. I read about making snowmen and snow angels, about snowball fights, about snowstorms that blocked roads, about white Christmases. But I had never seen it snow. Sure, I had ventured to hill stations close to the Himalayas, and taken pictures of snow-peaked mountains. I had even seen early morning frost on the grass in our backyard when we lived in Kathmandu, Nepal. But actual snow falling from the sky? Nope, hadn’t experienced that.
The first time I saw snow was in the city of Chicago, in the winter of 2000. I first noticed the light dusting of powder on the street, and I had no idea what it was. I even asked the friend I was with what that was — a question that completely puzzled him. Then the flakes started floating down, one by one. As I realized what was happening, the biggest grin split my face. I was as excited as a child, jumping up to catch the flakes, tilting my head back and opening my mouth to trap them.
In the last 15 years living in mid-western and north-eastern USA, I have witnessed hundreds of snowfalls. I have groaned at the thought of having to put on a dozen warm layers again. I have had my car towed out of a snow drift. I’ve been so cold that it hurt to breathe, so cold that I was oblivious to the beauty of the snow. But I have also had my turn building snow-people, and laying on my back to make snow angels. I’ve had snowball fights. I’ve been sledding and snow-tubing down hills, and tried my hand at skiing and snowboarding. I’ve been snowshoeing on moonlit snowy nights, when not a soul was stirring. I’m now blasé about snowfall — I don’t notice it much. But I recall the delight of that first time I saw snow falling. Christmas is here this year, but in most of the country, snow is not here yet. Shall we all recall the delight of our first snowfalls this Christmas?