January 22, 2008
By Janaki Nagarajan, Seattle, WA

Lying warm and toasty in your bed, you wonder what woke you. The gentle breathing of your friend beside you tells you she’s still asleep. You look out your window. Small white flakes are swirling down from puffy clouds. It’s snowing! The first snow of the year! More and more awake you become, for the sight of those little precious gems invigorates you.
“Wake up! Wake up!” you shout and shake your friend. “It’s snowing!” she grumbles something and pushes you aside. You don’t relent, and keep at her until she sits up and rubs her sleepy eyes. After she’s fully awake, her eyes find the window. “It’s snowing!” she squeals with excitement, and you smile. More and more awake you become.
You dart out of bed, and scarf down the traditional breakfast your mother makes on the first snow of the year: freshly made pancakes with a concoction of fresh snow mixed with maple syrup. You run towards the coat rack. “Snow walk” you explain, and she nods. “Bundle up, be back before dark.” is all she said. It is a tradition for you and your friend to go on a long snow walk during the first snow of the year. More and more awake you become.
Long johns and leggings. Wool scarves and sweaters topped with down jackets over snowsuits. Warm earmuffs under winter hats. Fuzzy mittens and gloves to make sure your hands don’t freeze. Last you pull on your heavy boots. The whole process involves much grunting, tripping, and falling-over incidents. At last both of you resemble nothing more than a bundle of clothing and blankets. She looks you and laughs. You look at her and laugh too. At last you open up the door and smell the fresh icy air of the first snow, clean, crisp, and pure. More and more awake you become.
Walking endlessly with no specific destination. Two pairs of footprints could be seen, trailing through the snow, as if they led to somewhere magical, like Hansel and Gretel on their way to the depths of the woods. There’s something special about creating the first footprints, walking this early. You own the world now, just you and her, and at this moment that’s all that matters as you walk down the road, as iced trees and bushes and gingerbread houses topped with frosting pass you by. Farther and farther you walk on.
There is so much scenery to take in, so many things to look at and admire. The world is a cake, and the snow is the frosting, delicately applied. The icing on the trees is so precise, as though a small child’s finger had run over the thin boughs, glazing them with snow. Farther and farther you walk on.
As you and your friend travel farther along the winding paths, dusted lightly with white softness, the magical realm becomes so real, more than just a dream, but yet so unreal you suppose it must be only a fantasy. How could something so breathtaking be tangible? Farther and farther you walk on.
Noses held high, you inhale, exhale, and notice the freshness, the cleanness, and the purity of it all. As if yesterday’s sins have been covered up, forgotten by a layer of sparkling beauty. Farther and farther you walk on.
The path you walk winds round and round, past twisted brambles, rough streams, and gnarled branches swaying in the breeze. But through it all, on this never-ending path those things, which were once hideous to look at, have a share in the beauty of this white wonderland. Farther and farther you walk on.
And my oh my, the colors! Not bright and blazing or artificial, but crisp and clear and defined. The blue of the icicles hanging down from the rooftops, the gray of the winters sky before another snow shower, the white, the glistening white of the snowflakes that sprinkle down, lightly caressing the treetops, bringing with it a freshness that could be accomplished by none but itself. Farther and farther you walk on.
You stick out your tongue, trying to fetch a snowflake. One lands in your friend’s eye, and as she flinches, you laugh. As soon as she recovers, she laughs too. There’s nothing particularly funny about the situation, yet it feels so good to dissolve into laughter, sharing an experience that will holdfast during a lifetime of turmoil and doubt, you shall remember this day, laughing and playing carefree in the white bliss, till the day comes, when you will laugh like this again. Farther and farther you walk on.
Holding hand in hand, skipping through the white dust, throwing snowballs at each other. You throw one at her face, which is pink with cold. She dodges out of the way, but hers hits you full in the mouth. You fall down, breathless, making a snow angel. She falls down beside you, and you lay there for a while, until you are soaked through and yearning for a steaming cup of hot cocoa. More and more exhausted you fall.
It’s time to go home. You raise yourself off the ground, and offer your hand to your friend. Wet and frozen, you race her to your house. Both of you rejoice when you are finally curled up cozy by the warm hearth, bundled in wool blankets, watching the flames dance to their complicated tune, sipping a hot and frothy drink, which warms you right down to your toes. More and more exhausted you fall.
Dusk is falling outside, and the chilly wind picks up, howling through the night. You are glad you are safe inside, away from the cold and bitterness, tucked warmly in your fleece pajamas. Your friend smiles at you, tells you this day was amazing. You nod and agree; you couldn’t agree more; it had been a wonderful day. More and more exhausted you fall, until you fall asleep, weary with tiredness, but you smile, for your dreams are filled with happiness, security, and comfort.

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