Monday, August 28, 2006


I have always had a vicarious love-affair with snow, even before my fingers had ever brushed it, or crushed it into soft balls, or handled great crystalline blocks of it to fling over the distance. Funny, how snow, present everywhere in every form, pervasive in the very air around us; that unattainable and precious crystalline form of life-giving water; funny how it never comes to us but in the coldest of climes; and then, when the perfect moment comes, all drift down in mighty cascades of white gold that collapse power lines and turn automobiles into silent mounds of icing-laid cake.

Here in Singapore one wonders how the Northerners in their think parkas must feel, freezing in their little log-cabins, crouching around a fire crackling merry warmth. And yet the cold is its own magic, the silence broken only by wind and the little gusts of white swriling around the conifers. I always imagine the breathy whisper of branches and the almost-silent drift of floating flakes. The feeling of dusk at winter and the deepening blue lit, perhaps, by shimmering carpets of the Aurora Borealis at latitudes far removed from here, dancing life's joy, celebrating the misty snowy night. At times I think of a snowtopped mountain amidst a mighty cluster of peaks, snowcapped and covered in pristine perfect snow; every footstep an ecstasy, a perfectly crafted print that marrs the smooth surface of the white, fine snow that crumbles like sand in gloved fingers, cyan cloudless sky and sun above, craggy peak and blinding snow below, or a vast canvas of starry night that enshrouds the sleeping world in soft night's chime.

I have felt snow, handled it. It was a novel and wonderful experience. It is almost what I experienced in my daydreams, albeit real snow is rather colder and icier than I would like. In towns, much of it is dirty. But pristine snow on mountains, brilliant blue sky dividing the world in two, white and blue. Now, that was postcard perfect in my dreams. Too bad I have a predilection for altitude sickness.

Those who live among snow must feel the strain of cold, must be tired of gazing at the mountains, perhaps wishing for a warmer clime, among palm fronds and iced cocktails and sandy beaches. I love palm trees and coconut trees; they seem exotic to me, and, like elm and maple, are living art, sculptures that grow, statues that change. But I, too yearn for winter and cold, for snow and blue sky and chilling wind and mountain air.

It is an escapist fantasy perhaps, but nonetheless it speaks to me in my mind, dances with my dreams, beckons to me with the promise of the blue skies, that empyrean ocean of wonder.



John Riemann Soong said...

Ah, so that explains your winter wish.

This winter will be my eighth winter I have experienced. However three of those winters were mild, ie. brown Christmasses.

Bloody global warming. My eyes could only go wide with amazement when my fifth grade teachers told me about snowfalls that reached all the way to the roof of the house 25 years or so back.

Did you use to live in New England or a similar cold climate? I was yearning for someone who knows just what it's like ...

Ah, the snow is its own magic ... oh, I remember the Ice Storm of '98...everything was so thick with ice, all the students kept tripping up the stairs.

I remember putting on jumper suits and winter gloves during recess, and trudging out to the school playground, as we rolled snowballs down the slide - with water on the slide it makes it especially fun. I remember playing soccer in the snow, with crystal powder flying up in the air every time the ball went up too.

I remember the wind being so cold and the chill so great, that I regretted not wearing jumpers because the cold soaks right through your skin and I had to take shelter underneath the playground structures to escape the wind.

I remember eating snow, feeling the sting of the ice against your cheeks, and we schoolchildren building snow forts so big, the entire complex ran along the entire 200 metres of the length of the playground.

When we would come back into the school, our muddy footprints would line the hallways, we'd eat our pizza and our spaghetti and drink our milk and juice while wearing our winter coats, and sometimes people would have saved a (rapidly melting) snowball and dunk it into their milk.

I remember leaving school at 5:00 pm, and the entire sky would have delved into night, because of the 8 hour daylight periods during winter solstice. Starbright are the starlights - the three jewels of the Hunter's belt punctuating the crisp brisk sky.

But now, no high school students play with snow, except for skiiing in some far away resort. No one even sleds. There's not even a recess, only a lunch. And I can only resent.

In Cape Elizabeth, they've taken down the soccer nets; they've smoothed the hill we sledded on for a new wing; they've replaced the woodchips we threw at each other with grass. And my last grips of nostalgia fade away ...

The alienation of being third culture. Alors.

The Arbiter said...

Indeed it does.

But I have never lived in any place outside this sunny island of swaying trees.

Mythical said...

I remember one particularly chill winter when the wind howled down a long street, caught me unprepared with a full bladder, and caused me the ultimate mortification. Fortunately, nobody was around to see it.