We all have memories, and we all undoubtedly have things that make them flare up from time to time. For some, it is the smell of fresh cut grass on a hot summer afternoon, for others it is the sound of crisp leaves crunching beneath cold feet on a brisk October evening. For me, snow- an early forecast, the beginning snowflakes of the season's first snowfall, the footprints left behind in the freshly fallen powder- holds some of my most cherished memories and just the sight of a small flake or two sends them flooding back in.
I remember being young (younger) and watching the weather portion of the 11 o'clock news before bed. The weatherman's call for snow made it nearly impossible to fall asleep for the excitement surrounding a potential snow day was almost too much to handle. I would wake up the next morning, rush to the front window in my bedroom and look out at a snow-covered Watson Street, sending my praises to Mother Nature for coming through for me.
I remember sled riding. My grandparents live on the biggest (and best) hill in Dillonvale, a hill so large that a ride from the very top to the very bottom can take upwards of fifteen seconds. My mom, sisters and I would pile on layers upon layers of clothes and make the 5-minute trek up the hill on foot because Hill Street was too slick to drive up on a snow day. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a neon orange sled on the back porch and my grandma and pap smiling and ready to snap unflattering photos with a disposable camera in the front window. An hour or so later, with tired legs, frozen fingers and wind burnt faces, we would make our way inside for homemade hot chocolate and games.
I remember college snow days, and even though they were few and far between, we made the most of the ones we had. Early into the second half of my freshman year on what I believe was a Tuesday morning, my roommate whispered to me from across the room that classes were cancelled and the university was closed. We woke up around noon and spent the day watching movies and eating Chinese food in preparation for an intense night of sled riding on cafeteria lunch trays. Students of all ages gathered on every hill on campus and spent hours speeding down the slopes on a "sled" that was no more than 2-feet wide by a foot-and-a-half tall.
I remember finding a piece of paper in the snow many years ago adorned with words of wisdom that I will never, ever forget. As I walked through one of the university's parking lots and at least 3 inches of snow one February morning, trailing a few paces behind a couple of friends, I looked down and saw a notecard buried and barely visible at my feet. On the front beneath a partial shoe print were the words "#1 Rule to Always Remember." I flipped open the folded-up notecard to find the following advice inside:
"Everything happens for a reason - good or bad, that's the way it's supposed to be. Destiny will run its course and love will conquer over all in the end."
I could not have stumbled upon such a wonderful message at a better time. Four years later, the lesson contained on the trampled notecard is still so very relevant. I carry it with me everywhere I go.
It should not be hard to see that snow means much more to me than the slick roads and icy walkways most others associate it with. For me, falling snow illuminated by the streetlight across the alley from the home I grew up in transports me back to many different years, ages and places, helping me to remember some of my most cherished memories. As long as the Ohio Valley is predicted to experience at least one good snowfall a season, I am certain I will never forget those snowy memories -they will always have a special place in my heart.