Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sense of snow

Last night I picked up the alumni magazine from my high school - an elite preppie boarding school in New England which drew many international students - and saw a picture of a woman I'd known way back when. She came in the same year as me but came in as a sophomore when I was a freshman, so she was a year older. She was from Curacao, in the Netherlands Antilles, a place which at that time I'd never heard of. In the magazine, she was shown with another alumna from the same class, pushing their children on swings in a snowy backyard in Massachusetts, where she now lives. And I remembered that the earliest memory I have of her is of walking across campus in the dark of an early winter evening, coming back from the dining hall, with the first snow of the season falling. It was her first snow ever, and she looked up at it in wonder as it fell on her face in big fluffy clusters of flakes. "I thought it would be like little ice cubes," she said, amazed, as I, a lifelong veteran of many more severe winters than we ever had at school, looked on.

Now I want to write her and tell her that the tables are turned; I live on a tropical island and have learned as an adult about things she no doubt knew well as a child: about shade-promoting architecture and louvered windows, tile floors and cross-ventilation, about geckos in the house and mold in the closets and automotive roach abatement. I want to let her know that I finally know what cotton sweaters are for.

1 comment:

Melinda said...

I like this one a lot. For me, a similar realization occurred after visiting the high desert of California and finally understanding the descriptions I'd read in Anne McCaffrey's dragon books concerning a desert community where people moved slowly in the midday heat...