First Snow

First Snow

Snow was but a dream

that I longed to touch one day.

And then that day came.

Growing up in Guyana, near the equator, the only snow I saw was in the movies, in picture books, or on Christmas cards.

My favorite snow scenes were on the Christmas cards. The snow was always pure and white with sparkles. Every scene was a happy one; children sledding, people skating, smiling families walking by decorated stores. Oh, how magical those scenes were. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to see snow, and feel snow, and make snow angels.

I had the chance to experience snow for the first time in January 1977, when I came to the United States. For those of you who remember that winter your memories may not all be pleasant, but for me the fulfilment of my dream to experience snow will always rise above any other memory of that magical whiteness.

My warmest piece of clothing up until then was a cardigan that a relative had sent from abroad, from a country where people needed cardigans. That is what I was wearing when I exited the PanAm jet. I thought I was set, ready for the cold that I had heard about. I must have been freezing, at least for a bit, given the weather statistics of that time, but that is a memory that did not survive; it was overshadowed by excitement and relief. Excitement at being in a new country and seeing and touching snow, and relief at experiencing the freedom of being in that new country. That was what kept me warm.