first snow

the sky, in hull, sparkles for the first time in months. snow frosts everything.

hwy 141
hwy 141

the first snow is an important marker during the year for me. there's never anything such as the first "nice day of spring" or the first "rainy day of fall". the first snow holds a special place atop the pantheon of memorable days. it's baffling to me how the cold fluff imprints itself on our imaginations as something worth assigning memory to, how it can shimmer on the coldest mornings or make people run around laughing and screaming with joy. what's the magic that it holds? how can it possibly mean so much to everybody across the world? what makes something so miserably cold, and in most cases completely impractical and inconvenient, worth anything?

for me it's trout lake, my hometown the size of a peanut to washington's football stadium. every winter i look forward to the first snow because no matter where i am and how charming the surroundings are they always take me home. i am always inclined to think about freezing toes and sled runs that would mom and dad nervous. the clearcut behind ben's house and ill-fated attempts to build forts. iced over ponds that break under the weight of skis and ski boots resulting in premature trips back to the warm confines of the paxson home.

ben & spencer
ben & spencer, 2005

i don't believe that i default on these memories every time it snows because of some simple maudlin nostalgia. i think the trigger is something deeper, something in my upbringing, my blood. something to do with the fact that i've only experienced two "dry" christmas' in all my life and one was in california. something to do with the fact that we got so much snow in 1996 that the town flooded and the vending machine at the local gas station was torn up and carried down the raging rapids that was once an irrigation ditch. something to do with the fact that i've shoveled snow four or five deep.

i miss the winter in washington, i think. this is a beautiful season and even bellingham held onto a bit of that magic for me whereas north england seems content to wallow in a sort of grey sadness. there are christmas "decorations" on the street and i have lights up in my room but there is an element of shine that is missing here.

despite the obvious lack of snow to romp around in with mates, of course.


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