Born and raised in Texas, I didn’t actually see snow until I was 11 years old when my family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. I remember my middle school was having a contest to guess the first day it was going to snow, and I raised my hand saying, “Well…I’ve never seen snow, so how am I supposed to guess?” They told me to just give it my best try, so I wrote some random day down. I don’t remember the day I wrote down, but I do remember that it was right.
I remember the first time I saw snow…It was a dark night and it was either a Friday or Saturday. It wasn’t a school night. My family and I had gathered around outside after hearing on the news that there was a possibility of snow. After a while, the first flakes starting falling. They were so tiny and fragile. I was amazed at how quickly they would melt in my hand and how from a distance the snowflakes looked like tiny white cottonballs, but up close they looked like complicated crystals. They were amazing.
I quickly called a close family friend and as soon as she picked up the phone I exclaimed, “It’s snowing!” She had told me to say that and she’d know exactly who it was. I was so excited to see snow.
That Monday when I went to school, I was eager to see what I’d win for getting the right day, but for some reason I didn’t win. The school said something about how it didn’t snow in that area, or it wasn’t enough to count, or something weird like that. I was irked, but whatever. At least I know I guessed the day right. Not like it matters anyways…
Now, nine years later, I live in Texas again and I haven’t seen snow in five years. There are times that I miss it’s magical, mysterious beauty, but then there’s other times when I think of the negative sides of snow. After living in Minnesota for a year, my family moved to North Dakota for four years where I got to spend a lot of time with the snow.
In North Dakota, it’s common for temperatures to go below zero and snow begins falling in October and doesn’t stop until April or May. It’s not a pleasant, peaceful snowfall, though, it’s a harsh, icy experience. In North Dakota, the land is barren and flat, so wind is extremely strong and unstoppable. This can make the temperatures even more frigid than they already are. Each winter night in North Dakota, the temperatures drop so low that it freezes everything from the day previous so that all the snow is turned to ice. This can be great for sledding, but it’s awful for actually living and getting around in.
In a North Dakota winter, people need to wake up extra early in the mornings to clear their driveways, especially before the temperatures freeze the snow on the driveway into a sheet of ice. When my dad would shovel the snow into a pile next to our house, I always got excited about building snow tunnels and burrowing a snow cave, but I was always disappointed when not long afterwards it’d be a giant chunk of unpenetrable ice. Also, whenever the snow plows would come down the streets, they’d push all the snow from the streets into a little pile at the foot of everyone’s driveway. Of course this would also quickly turn to ice so every home on the street would have a frozen, icy speedbump at the base of their driveway until summer.
Another problem with snow is that it’s only pure, white, and beautiful for a limited time. Once people begin walking in it or cars start driving in it, it just starts getting muddy and sloppy. There was always a muddy sloshy mess in all of the streets and on all of the sidewalks in the winters in North Dakota. Parking lots would have a few spaces dedicated to building a giant muddy snow pile that would accumulate throughout the winter. No matter how beautiful and magical a snowy night might be, it’d always be ruined in the morning…
I can still remember the most snowy magical sight I saw, and it was one random night in North Dakota around two or three in the morning. I was downstairs in my bedroom when my dad called for me from the dining room upstairs. I ran up to find him staring out the window. “Look, look!” he said as he opened the curtain for me. Outside was a gigantic white hare, about the size of a large dog. The hare was hopping down our street, teetering from yard to yard. He came across our yard, right in front of the window we were looking out of and continued through our driveway before following down the street. He didn’t stay long, but I treasured each second I saw him. The next morning, the snow had covered up any sight of tracks and the hare was nowhere to be found. Every now and then I would hear a neighbor say they saw the hare, but I never saw him, myself, ever again.
Snow has a special place in my heart. Every Christmas Eve when I was a child in Texas, I would pray for snow so that I could have that “White Christmas,” but it never did snow…But after living a few years in the stuff, I’m glad to be done with it. I wouldn’t mind if it snowed a little here and there, but I don’t want to shovel or pick at the ice or trudge through the slush any more. It’s also nice to be able to walk to a bus stop without the danger of frostbite setting in. In any case, I love snow, but I can love it from afar.
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