Although it was many moons ago, I can still feel the softness of the snow flurries melting on my nine-year-old face that Christmas Eve. Mom was inside busy baking cookies and preparing dinner before Dad would come home from work.
I was outside, shovel in hand, totally immersed in the beauty of the evening. I watched the snowflakes flutter down, painting our cement sidewalk. I stared as the snow coated the wooden stairs that led up to our screened porch. The concrete street was all white now and never looked more inviting for a game of tackle football.
I wondered when our block would come alive again as I anticipated many children dashing from the confines of their warm living rooms, ready to have a snowball fight.
Richmond Hill never looked so beautiful.
My parents were never happier.
My brother and sisters weren’t arguing.
Life was never better.
All of these images and thoughts flooded my mind, unlike any other time in my young life. It was then that I knew I wanted to be a writer.
I dropped my shovel and raced inside. I opened the drawer in the kitchen and rummaged through its many contents. I found that golden gift – a pen. Such a simple device. Yet so much emotion spouts from its thin structure.
I went to my room and tore out several pages from my math notebook. I wasn’t using them anyway. I started writing my thoughts and feelings, how the snow falling warmed my heart, how waiting for my friends to come out and play excited me.
I ran back outside, jumping from the top step of the stairs into the snow-covered sidewalk, incredibly inspired. I took a deep breath and exhaled, watching my breath float in the frigid air. I had done this hundreds of times before. Yet, tonight, it was different. It was more real.
I slowly shoveled, examining each pile of snow my small red shovel would pick up. I made a neat pile, carefully preparing it for building a miniature snowman later. It may have been the first time in my life I was multi-tasking.
When I got to the far end of the house and dug up the last bit of the white fluffy candy, I raised my shovel in triumph like Rocky did on those steps in Philadelphia. Perhaps Stallone – inspired by snow – did this at one time in his young life as well.
Excuse me while I digress.
I looked back with the biggest smile on my face and then drooped. I saw the snow had already covered the entire sidewalk behind me.
I laughed and sat down on our small cement curb leading up to the lawn. I knew it was going to be a long night to keep Dad happy. After all, I wanted him to see I had cleaned the sidewalk for him when he came home from work.
Before I began to shovel again, I looked around me, noticing how the snow leaned over the branches like icicle lights. The once-dirty streets were now clean, cleansed with nature’s frosty love. I saw a friend coming out with a scarf so long you could wrap them around the block.
I could see their eyes sparkling with excitement.
Playtime was here.
I dropped my shovel and raced down the block.
Life was good.
Santa was coming.
But that could wait.
I grabbed a pile of snow in my hands and rounded one snowball. It was fluffy, okay, not great. But it would do. I saw one of the Loscalzo kids out. Ha!
I put snow all around my hat so I could camouflage myself. I hid for a few seconds behind a tree and eyed my target. I couldn’t tell whether it was Chris or Joan or Jean. It didn’t matter. She had her back to me.
I stepped out, cocked my arm way back and shouted, “Hey, you!”
Then I threw.
The snowball went hurtling out of my hands…and broke up into tiny pieces falling to the ground.
I looked at the drabs of my once potent weapon lying harmlessly among the snow. I heard a giggle so I laughed too.
I quickly grabbed more snow and made another snowball. I looked up and no one was around.
So I tossed it against a nearby tree, making an imprint. It would give me enough satisfaction. And enough inspiration to go back inside and write.