Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Over the Meadow and Through the Snow....

Ironically a winter memory comes to mind whenever I hear the opening lyric of Nat King Cole's "That Sunday That Summer". It begins...If I had to choose just one day, to live my whole life through…For me, it would surely be that snowy winter’s eve in 1977, when I was 15 years old.

That Saturday I planned to spend the evening at the home of my best friend who lived on the other side of town. I shoved my feet into my sorrels, shrugged into my duffle coat and looked out the kitchen window. Fluffy snowflakes as big as quarters floated down from the sky, settling gently onto the unblemished drifts that covered our backyard. 

On tiptoe, I rummaged through the front closet shelf and found what I needed.  With a scarf looped around my neck, my toque pulled firmly over my ears, and mitten cuffs tucked into my coat sleeves I was ready to face mother nature.

I stepped out of the house, filled my lungs with prickling winter air and headed towards my goal at a brisk pace.  Along the hard pack on the roadside, snow squeaked in protest with each crenelated boot print I left in my wake.  The surrounding neighbourhood was silent and few cars drove past.  As I neared the bright and noisy downtown, I realized I didn’t want to spoil the peace and quiet. I decided to detour across the railway lines that ran parallel to Front Street. On the other side of the tracks lay a large open area, a little bigger than a football field. Beyond that, a gentle slope led to a smattering of houses, one of which belonged to my friend.

I crossed the tracks and slipped into the darkness, my breath fogging the air in front of me. Guided by moonlight, I wadded ankle deep through the white expanse. All was quiet save the swish of loose powder around my ankles and the crunch of my boots compressing the snow beneath me. I alternated between feeling the frosty air on my face, to snuggling my cheeks and chin into my scarf where my warm breath formed and then melt tiny crystals in the damp wool.

When I came to the middle of the field, I stopped and took off  my mittens.  My heated hands welcomed the cool air while I closed my eyes and turned my face heavenward. Thick flakes melted on my cheeks and tickled my eyelashes. I couldn’t resist and opened my mouth, chasing snowflakes onto my tongue. Over my shoulder I could see the narrow trail I had made, leading back into the darkness. It was the only thing marring the pristine swath of white behind me and I felt like I was the only one on earth. A feeling of immense joy and serenity  seeped into my soul. I continued on, a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

All too soon I was standing in front of Cindy’s door. I looked down at my jeans, now true bell bottoms, stiff with the snow that had first melted, then froze along the trek. Heat radiated out the neck of my coat as I began unraveling my scarf. I raised my hand to knock, and hesitated, fearing my rapping knuckles would break the spell. Catching sight of my rosy cheeked reflection in the window, I smiled. There was still the walk back home.