I woke up to the usual dark morning, starting the day off with a large mug of hot chocolate. It never occurred to me to look outside.
And then it was time for me to leave the house and hop into Frank’s car. (Frank is a friend of my host parents who works in Sarreguemines, and he is generous enough to drive me and Cassandre to school on weekdays) I pulled on my Timberlands, grabbed my handbag and Papa opened the door for me. What met my eyesight was a magnificent view – it had snowed overnight and our front yard was a silver world of wonder. I almost couldn’t recognize the place. The trees were sprinkled with frost and flakes while the stone pathway to the gate was beautifully decorated with mounds of clear white snow, reflecting off the warm yellow light emitted from the lamps. I lightly brushed off some snow from the knob, and passed through the gate to get in the car.
We were running late because two cars before us there was a driver who drove really slow. Frank said the car did not have the winter gear installed and if it went too fast it would slide on the road. Being late for school was not a good thing, but this morning I didn’t really care. I wanted as much time as possible to gaze at the “beautiful landscape” that was usually barren and boring, like any other view you’d see on both sides of the highway.
I’ve loved snow since as long as I could remember. When I was little we lived in Boston in the United States and sometimes the snow piled almost as high as the toddler me. When pathways were cleared out, I had my little snow kingdom. I’d also build snowmen with my neighbors, dressing them up with my dad’s scarves and hunting for twigs to install as their arms. My mom would save a few carrots and give me a few buttons from the sewing cabinet to create the faces of the snowmen. The little hill near our house was coated with snow as well, and my neighbors brought out their sleds. Every year we anticipated the arrival of the season and the fun it brought along with. It was the definition of childhood.
Kids love making promises. And I promised the snow that we would see each other every winter.
I was forced to break the promise, however. My family moved to Shanghai when I was five, and it doesn’t snow there. I did not understand why, for I was too young to learn about climate differences, but I believed that winter was not really here without the snow. Yet we passed year after year, and soon I forgot about the promise altogether.
Seeing the snow this year reminded me of some of the happiest moments I’ve had as a child. It reminded me of the promise I made with a pinky swear and thumb stamp more than a decade ago. I did not rush myself to hurry to school. Neither did I pull on the furry hood of my coat. I let the snowflakes get caught up in my hair and decorate my eyelashes.
I looked up at the sky as million drops of frozen rain floated down gracefully, and I smiled. I didn’t care if people around me thought I was some weirdo imagining herself in a movie. I was reunited with an old friend.
When I got off the German bus and walked towards the country border after school, I stopped the music blasting in my earbuds, and listened intently to my own footsteps. There was just me in the dark finding my way towards the running waters that marked the line between Germany and France. I heard the soft crunches from my boots, and then I stooped down to scoop a handful of snow. The coldness pierced my bare hands, but it was something I hadn’t felt in a long time.
Winter was here.