Every winter a loss lurks in my heart, lodged in memory: I miss for my children a perfect snow, the snow that seems impossible in the south but is part of my fiber as a Northerner.
I miss for them, on a much shallower level, the way you sweat when you pull on long underwear, snowpants, wool socks, and snowboots. I miss for them the humiliating Wonder Bread wrappers secured with rubberbands under those snowboots.
But every single winter what I really lament is that they won't remember what it is like to be surrounded in the stillness of a perfect snowy night. And finally, last night, after 15 years in the South, we got it.
It was beautiful. For hours and hours and hours the snow came down and finally covered the grass and then piled up, inch by inch. In my hometown, that was winter and it lasted forever and ever and ever. Here, it is magic.
And finally, my children know the pure beauty of a perfect snow night, when everything is quiet and the glow of the streetlights makes the world seem unblemished. You forget the brown underneath. You forget the debris and the miscellaneous plastic objects scattered about. The junk.
Although I grew up in snow country, I remember only a few perfect snows.
* Age 10 on Castle Street, when my father and I walked in the middle of the street at night, way past my bedtime, and the snow came down thick and lovely.
* A drive out to our lake property on Christmas Day so that my Dad and brothers could sail: red boat, gray lake, fat white flakes falling all around them.
* Many years later, a moonlight ski on the country club's golf course, when the snow was thick and fluffy and my mother and father skied silently ahead of me, full of joy.
* My senior year in high school when we had a rare snow day, and my boyfriend Michael picked me up for a drive, and all the evergreens were heavy with March snow. We couldn't believe our good fortune.
The kind they carry with them into their own lives and cling to, remembering the way the snow looked in the glow of the streetlight and how they were utterly immersed in joy.