Our Children’s Snow

It’s coming into the end of the day.  My daughter runs around the house, thumping from one window to the next, shouting at the rest of us to go see the snow, which began falling in thick layers.  The grass is getting white, the little path from the door to the road is disappearing, the trees are whitening too, the roof of the house next door.  I can tell by the bounce of her voice, the song she invents as she goes from one person to the next urging us to look outside, that her mind is recording the movement of the flakes, their dance.  She switches languages as she runs from me to her father and back to her brother, her thoughts take off the runways of Italian and English filling the house with bright, melodious words: snow, guarda il cielo, pappa!  At one point in her life will she remember this snow, this house, among her first memories? She is now at the age of first memories that become permanent.

My child is stirring my own first memories. When was my first memory of snow?  It must have been at my grandparents’ house in another language yet, a language that calls the snow with the word zapada.  I must have been wearing socks knitted by my grandmother to keep me warm against the cold of the clay floor covered by a straw mat. We must have looked out of the small kitchen window through the stars made of ice that clung there most of the harsh winters.  I walk to the window and look through this snow, at the snows to come, the hope of the many snows to come, for my daughter, and for me.  There is something oracular about tonight’s snow, or let me say that I earn for something oracular in tonight’s snow…

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