July 10, 2014

Living Well—The Tao of Snow

 

DRAWING BY DAN MAZUR

Living Well—The Tao of Snow

I just got back from Pennsylvania, on a six-day visit where I met my man’s entire family for the first time, including his mom, whom he worships. Roberto and I live thirty miles from each other and have never been together for six days.

When we are together, we each have our own room, and we’re at my house, where I reign as queen. Plus I always have a vehicle. On this trip I had no car, and we had one room to share. Used to freedom and the illusion of control, I had no idea how it would go, and the stakes felt a bit high.

We flew into Pittsburgh at 5:20 p.m. Roberto dialed his sister’s cell, told her we’d landed, and mentioned getting a rental car. She offered her own car instead and said she and her husband would be there in half an hour to pick us up.

After a five-hour flight, I welcomed the wait and used the time to walk around the deserted baggage claim area and stretch my legs. Soon bored with the drab airport decor, I ventured outside, where the bracing winter air of Pennsylvania met my sunny-and-warm Los Angeles cheeks. I smiled and breathed it in all the way to my toes.

Several yards from the building I spotted a patch of white on the ground. Could it be? Yes! The slight remains of ­snowfall. I squealed, grabbed a handful, scrunched it into a ball, and reentered the building, looking for my favorite target. He saw me coming, ducked around a luggage turnstile, and reminded me that he was the son of a track star. “We’ll see,” I challenged, and went out for more ammo.

With a newly formed ball in my gloveless, frozen hand, I came back in quietly through a side door, snuck up around a corner, and playfully beaned him. His sister and brother-in-law drove up before he had time to retaliate and took us to their sweet house in a quiet, suburban neighborhood. We walked in and surprised his mom, a bright, silver-haired woman, who’d thought we were not due for two more days.

I shared my snowball triumph, to which she smiled and replied, “Way to go!” I liked her immediately.

Soon we left for Roberto’s aunt’s house where we would be staying. As we drove, tiny white specks began to fall from the sky. I watched the flurries in the headlight beams. They looked almost like rain but seemed to fall horizontally instead of vertically, too light to drop directly and in no hurry to land. In the glow of street lam­ps, I saw the little dots dance about, frolicking in the air, oblivious to the slush they would soon become. I am mesmerized by snow. Snow meanders. Snow surrenders.

When we arrived at Aunt Marilyn’s house, Roberto steered the car carefully down the drive, then, before going out into the 32˚ night air, went over the directions his sister-in-law had given him: Open the unlocked door to the shed, count three shelves up, find the ceramic frog, and in its mouth you will find the spare key. Got it. When he tried the shed door, it was locked. All the doors were locked. All the windows too. It was after 10:00 p.m., and we didn’t want to wake anyone with a phone call, so we drove back to his sister’s house for the night. But I could not sleep. I wanted to be in the snow.

As everyone got ready for bed, I bundled up in three layers of warmies, put on a pair of New Balance leather cross trainers, the warmest shoes I’d brought, wrapped a wool scarf around my neck, and headed out the door. It was midnight.

I walked in a silence that I have only ever found in snow. It’s more than an auditory lack of sound; it’s visual, too, as the color of the sky melts into the ground in a continuum of white and grey, and all colors disappear, swallowed up in soft white kisses from the clouds. All is serene. All is peaceful. I’m certain the lyrics, “Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright…” were written with a backdrop of snowfall. The only sound was the quiet crunch of my sneakers in the inch or two of white fluff on the road. I returned to the house at around 1:00 a.m., wet and cold, peeled off layers I’d not needed since my New England childhood, and slipped into the nice warm guest room. My sweet man had left a light on for me and lay with a little pillow over his eyes.

The next night we received ample assurance that the shed door had now been opened for us. However, when we arrived, the door was locked. We must have been a sight, two middle-aged people scouting around the house with our iPhone flashlights, trying every opening to no avail. ‘Berto called his cousin, who got out of bed, showed up in ten minutes, and let us in. The snow continued to fall, slowly, silently, knitting a white blanket around us.

In the morning, we awakened to a winter wonderland. I looked out the lace-lined bathroom window to a vision of trees, as tall as the sky, softly cloaked in white. As I watched, they began to sway, ever so gently. Not all of them. Just a handful. For all the world, it looked as though they were dancing for me, waving a sweet hello. I had no doubt they knew I was watching, that this was God’s way of telling me I’m safe. I can relax. I can surrender.

I am blessed with a man who has a lovely, warm, and welcoming family. The night before we left Pennsylvania, I told him that if I ever leave him, I’m keeping his mom. However, she says we’ll last, and she’s a smart cookie. I have no idea what the future holds. Today I’m doing my best to follow the snow, to meander along, surrender, and enjoy every moment of this sweet falling.

Sage Knight is a local ghostwriter, editor, and lover of natural beauty. You can reach her at www.SageKnight.com.