Tonight when we got home from downtown, there was a wet, chilly snow falling in half-hearted, icy lumps. The kids, of course, were thrilled. The whole neighbourhood was madly donning rubber boots, coats, hats and mitts in a frantic race to get outside and lob a few dirty balls of ice at tree trunks before the whole mess melted. I couldn't help but be moved by the magic of snow, no matter how paltry the amount that falls. I am 33 years old, and I will still get up in the middle of a winter's night to watch the flakes drift down (or pelt down, as is more usual in this temperate rainforest I call home).
With an inward sigh, thinking of the imminent chilly hands and puddly laminate, I bundled up my little girls and sent them outside to play with the neighbour kid in the thickening darkness. I watched them from the window for a while, with a half-smile on my face, while they waved madly at me every few seconds. It made me think of all the times my sister, brother and I would play beat-the-clock with the snowfall, scrambling into our second- or third-hand snowsuits and rummaging in the bootbox for old cracked mitts, which we waterproofed with breadbags and elastic bands, hoping to get outside in time to feel the flakes fall before they turned back to icy rain. I hated it when the grownups would glance at the promising whiteness and dismiss it with "it'll probably turn to rain before you get outside" or "it won't last - not cold enough". It always sounded like a jinx, and I resented them when, as they predicted, the flakes thinned out, to be replaced by misty wet. The skiff of white on the ground would melt into a dirty slush, and we would finally lose heart and trudge back inside, defeated by the climate once again.
I remembered all this as I stood at the window, watching my little ones brimful of excitement. They were so cute, asking me for carrot noses for the snowmen they were planning -- three-inch lumps of half grass, half ice. I took my two Ikea lanterns and two new tealights, popped on my boots, and went outside to hang the lanterns in the apple tree around which the kids were playing. They were so happy when they saw the lanterns perched on the bare, wet branches - "It's like Christmas!" cried Charlotte in delight. I have to admit that I had to blink back a tear or two, even though I knew that, in a very short time, the children would be standing shivering on the mat, magical lanterns forgotten.
It's okay...I know they'll remember them eventually.