I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, so when it snowed when I was in grade school, it was unbelievable. Not some sleety, icy rain, but actual flakes, downy and puffy and beautiful. I walked out of my speech therapy session into a miracle. The snow stuck to the blue fur of my coat and looked just like the snow in the movies. Some teachers had let their students out of class, and kids were running and playing in the snow, screaming, trying to form snowballs. The next day the front page of our local paper showed a picture of snow falling in a grove of palm trees.
I walked back to my classroom through the snow. I was tempted to run and play like the kids whose teachers had let them out, but I was supposed to go straight back to class after speech therapy, not run around. I hoped hoped hoped that when I reached my classroom I would find it empty, the kids building a snowman on the kickball field. But when I got there, the students were all sitting in their seats under the florescent lights, ignoring the miracle taking place outside. I slid into my chair, hoping each moment that the teacher would let us go before the snow melted. But she didn't.
This Christmas Eve, I was visiting my mother in Washington state when it started to snow. At first little ice pellets, too small for hail, clattered down. Then real flakes started drifting down. According to the weather forecast, it wasn't even supposed to rain, so once again, the snow was a miracle. A white Christmas!
I was busy making rolls for Christmas dinner. In fact, the dough was fifteen minutes into its first rise, which the recipe said would take half an hour. Based on the forecast, though, the snow wasn't going to last. So I left my dough rising, borrowed my mother's boots, and rushed outside to enjoy the snow. I walked through the fir trees, marveling at the snowflakes sprinkling my blue rain jacket, at the slow slifting white that frosted the ground.
Sometimes it feels like I haven't learned anything in this life, but I have learned this: when a miraculous snow falls, drop what you're doing to enjoy it.
By the time I made it back to the house fourty-five minutes later, the snow had already stopped, so if I'd waited, I would have missed it.
The rolls turned out fine.
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Ann Hillesland writes fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Bayou, The Laurel Review, and Sou’wester.
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