Thursday, December 07, 2006

the first snow

It's snowing today. The first snow of the year. Wet, white snowflakes falling down with the thick and slushy weight of gravity. A fresh blanket of snow on the trees, on the street, on my face. Instant winter.

As I walk, I pass by the neighborhood where many Sudanese families now live. I know this is their neighborhood because I often see the young bustling families sitting on their door stoop, playing with their friends, waiting for the bus, and casting a beautiful rainbow of African dress all along the street. One family in particular, I pass quite a bit. A modest mother and her three or four young children.

Sometimes, she's with her girlfriend chatting and laughing in a foreign tongue. She seems happiest then, when she has someone to talk to. I never see the father. Perhaps he's working, perhaps he managed to find a job in this strange and distant country. Perhaps he's still in the motherland. Perhaps there is no father anymore.

I pass by and smille at the children. I smile at her, yet she averts her gaze. Quiet and sullen. What does she think of me, young, independent American woman on her way to work every day? Is she curious or does she disdain me? Me with no cares in the world. Just walking to work, walking home, every day in my nice clothes and shiny shoes. What do I know?

I always wonder what's on her mind. Does she like my coat today? What does she think of my new lipstick? Does she even see me?

This might be her first snow today. Her beautiful head-dress constrasts brightly to the newly muted landscape. She can't see the snow as I do, with comfort and childlike nostalgia. For the chilly Vermont winter holds no memories for her. There's a small chance that she can see it for its simple beauty, no matter how cold or unconsoling it may be. I wonder: does she look at a snowflake and feel the sudden calm and silence of its weight? I hope so, for what is the alternative but to see it in the eyes of cold, dead winter? That time will come soon enough, oh January. But while the snow is falling fresh, is still graceful and not yet rigid, please let her find solace in its theater of wonders.

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