As an inland Mediterranean native, I have had the pleasure of experiencing snow relatively often during my childhood. Freezes were way more frequent though, so the snow days were really special.
We usually were exempted of attending school when it snowed, just in case someone slipped and fell, breaking some leg or arm. I hated that–I wanted to go to school, experience the white streets, but I didn’t want to actually enter the classroom: I would have rather preferred to play in the patio with the rest of children!
Still, maybe it really snowed properly just five or six times while I lived there on the mountains, so whenever weather forecasters announce a snowfall, I get all excited about it. Snow!! Yay!
I have two favourite snow memories. One is when it fell on the evening of the 5th of January. I had just visited my grandparents’ and my sister and me were discussing with my grandfather about whether it would snow or not. He was sitting on his armchair, hands crossed over his huge belly, and he turned to us with his more stern face and solemnly said it wouldn’t, because of the light, and what not. We were in the ‘it would’ camp, so we objected to his prediction, which I know he secretly liked because he loved to argue and contradict everybody. My grandma smiled at the silliness of it all, and didn’t even bother joining in, as she was in our camp too. So we went home, all excited about the weather signs: it was so cold! and so quiet! it would definitely snow!
We were waiting for lunch to be ready, and all of a sudden my sister shouted: LOOK! IT’S SNOWING!
Looking at each other and smiling, as if knowing we had been right in our prediction all the time, we ran to the window and enjoyed the magic. What a nice way to prepare for the Three Kings arrival, which was that evening!
On the building opposite, there were two children, younger than us. They had been born right after the last snowfall in the city, and thus had probably never seen snow before. They were both looking at the sky in awe, hands over the glass, faces with an “OOOOOOH” expression firmly stuck in them. I loved that!
The next memory was about four years later. It was only a couple months after my grandma had passed away, so everything brought back memories of her. It started snowing without warning, and all of a sudden there was a thick layer of snow covering the city. I couldn’t help remembering the previous discussion and feeling somehow sad she wasn’t there to agree with us anymore, but at the same time was really enthused by the snowfall and the prospects of a white city. I picked the camera and left home, intent on taking pictures of whatever struck my fancy. To my dismay, the streets had been patted already and the magic had been destroyed by buildings and people. Somehow my feet directed me to the old Main Street, and there my steps were the only noise one could hear, apart from the occasional drip of melted snow falling down the pipes. And I unavoidably ended up in my grandparents’ flat –but then grandfather’s–. Upstairs, in his living room, it was warm. The rest of the flat was cold as a fridge, as usual. He was sitting in the armchair, and we avoided the silly discussion, going straight to just talking about the fact: the snowfall.
I told him I had taken the camera with me but hadn’t really found much to photograph. But then I remembered about their balcony, and went outside. Since the balcony faced an old decommissioned school, the scenery from there was intact. Nothing had stepped on that virgin snow. It was stunning: white and white and white, over the pavement, over the trees, the buildings… I remember wondering what would my grandma had said if she had lived to see this grandiose snowfall. Oh, if she could have lived a couple more months, she would have… But there wasn’t any coming back, I told to myself.
And I remembered about the upper floor terrace. I told my grandfather I was going upstairs, and picked the key from the corridor. There was a huge wooden key hanging on the corridor, with pins from where normal-size key rings were hanging in an orderly way. Rushing the three flights of stairs, I arrived to the last floor and nervously opened the door’s lock, walked down the long corridor and finally opened the last door with a creak. And then, the whiteness.
I felt sorry about walking over it, so pure it felt, but I had to if I wanted to get close to the banister and take pictures from there. I walked the six or seven meters carefully, as if trying not to step too much over the snow. Below me and onward, the magic was happening. It was like the setting of a fantastic tale, with snowy mountains at the very end of the picture. It was getting dark already, and the film I used –yes, this was way before digital cameras– was just an ISO 100, so my pictures turned out darker that I perceived the images back then. It added a melancholic mood to the whole thing, very apt, I thought, as I was so nostalgic at that moment.
The day after I had to take the train to the university city, so we went to the train station, which is outside the city itself. It was damn freezing and the station was closed so we had to wait in the car, but after a while it was freezing there too so we went outside and started walking around. Below us, again, the city looked as if it was a movie background set, with the first lights being turned on as the afternoon died and the evening got in. The train journey was also slower than usual, as the driver was super careful about snow in the rails, and thus we crossed the valley enjoying the snowy sights, the distant lights, the white fields.
Today is snowing and I can’t help looking out the window and secretly enjoying the snow setting in, and falling, so peacefully, covering everything it can with white spots. Everything looks nicer with a bit of snow on top :-)