by Harrison Smith
Wednesday, Feb. 22, was a day of anticipation. Students and professors alike abandoned lectures to fix their noses to frosted window panes, gazing at the snow swirling from the white sky. Some watched the snow with dread, some watched with childlike wonder. Like everyone else, I went to bed that night expecting that the fitful flurries of flakes would falter overnight. After all, it never snows on the coast.
On the morning of Thursday the 23rd, I awoke to discover that the spirit of Jack Frost had ejaculated on our sleeping town. I finished my coffee as I watched the white blanket on my lawn grow thicker, then began to bundle up for the ride to class. I chose my outfit with warmth and winter whimsy in mind – from inside to outside, I wore two pairs of socks, long johns, an undershirt, a long sleeve tee, a sweater, a heavy jacket, a shawl, leather gloves, and finally sealed it off with a scarf tied about my head like a babushka.
The trip to class was like riding my bike through hyperspace. Blowing snow swirled and buffeted me, but I was well dressed for the weather. I smiled a rosy, windblown grin at the huddled silhouettes of students walking to class in hoodies and sneakers.
‘Probably from SoCal,’ I thought smugly.
There are no snow days for college students, but we find our fun in other ways. Normally, I am not one to linger after class. On Thursday morning, however, I found myself standing in the courtyard of Founder’s Hall, soaking in the tranquility of the scene. My classmate Adam had begun to build a snowman. His bare hands were bright red as he rolled the snowball across the grass.
“Mind if I join ya?,” I asked.
He didn’t. For the next twenty minutes I used my gloves to roll balls of snow across the courtyard, gathering mass like the Prince of all the Cosmos in Katamari Damacy. I would heft the finished ball to Adam, who would then glue it onto the previous ball with handfuls of snow. When we were finished with the primary construction, we began to scour the ground for decorations with which to festoon our frosty friend. Adam dressed him with stone buttons and sculpted his handsome face, and into his mouth I placed a fat joint made of a curl of bark. Humboldt snowmen stay stoned.
The snow wouldn’t stick around for long, but Adam and I talk to each other in class now. We’re friendly. Whenever something out of the ordinary happens, humans love to share it with one another. We cannot help but beckon each other outside to play in the snow.
As adults we aren’t able to experience the snow like we did as children. It becomes an inconvenience, a hazard through which to drive, moisture in the hair, a cold touch on the neck. But we can still claim the small moments of whimsy and joy that come when the sky turns white. I loved the snow.