I waited, all that December evening, watching the news on our old and rather undependable TV. Every time the weather report came on, I would sit up straighter, and wait to hear some hint of snow. Some hint that the world would be covered with snow like white sugar in the morning. They were predicting it, but it wasn't a sure thing. Only time would tell.
I loved snow. I was fourteen, but still a child when it came to waiting for it to snow, when winter came around. It was the prospect of school being cancelled, and the idea of going out and building snow men, and making snow angels, and just being in the snow. In that respect, I never wanted to grow up. Adults always think of snow as something to make it more difficult to get to work, and nothing more. But I hoped I would never grow up, when it came to snow.
When I went to bed that night, it hadn't yet started to snow. I lay in bed, wrapped in warm blankets, with my orange and black tabby cat curled up on the pillow next to me, and looked out the window, hoping to see some flake of white. But before any snow could fall, I slipped into sleep.
I had many strange dreams that night. They all seemed to be about the woods that lay behind my house, where I had once looked for faeries, or played in the fallen leaves, long ago in my childhood. The one I remember the best was of a scene in the woods, in fall, with all the leaves turned orange and red and gold, and the sun making patterns on the forest floor through the few leaves that still hung on the trees. I was standing there, wrapped in my favourite bright red sweater, surrounded by animals of all kinds. Squirrels and foxes and rabbits and birds, a snake or two, and several deer, towering over the rest of the animals. But that is all I can remember of that dream, though I know there must have been more.
When I woke in the morning, I lay with my face buried in the pillow for a moment, slowly nudging myself into full wakefulness. The cat was gone from the pillow, off doing whatever cats do in the mornings, and my blankets were tangled in my legs. For several minutes, I lay there, delighting in the comfort of my bed. And then I remembered, the news, my hope for snow, and everything else.
Slowly, I sat up, and looked out the window. My breath caught in my throat, and I smiled, wonderfully happy. Everything was covered in snow. The sidewalk, the road, the trees and bushes, our car parked out in front, the rooftops of the houses across the street, and everything else. "Snow," I breathed. The wind rattled the branches of a skeletal tree out in the yard, and dislodged a pile of snow, which fell to the ground, making a small white mountain.
My mother's footsteps came pattering up the stairs and into my room. "School is cancelled," she said, smiling. "So is work. My boss is snowed in. Come have breakfast, I'm going to make waffles." I turned around and nodded at her, grinning wildly. I wasn't hungry, but waffles were my favourite breakfast food, and I knew she wouldn't let me go out in the snow until I'd eaten.
I got out of bed, a smile still playing across my face, and got dressed for the snow, with two pairs of pants and three sweaters for warmth. I hated being cold, which was a strange contrast to my love of snow. Dressed, I skipped down the stairs to our large kitchen, humming some nameless tune. My mother gave me a plate of waffles, and made me sit down to eat them. They were gone in five minutes flat. I put on my coat and gloves, and stepped out into my white world. The snow looked like powdered sugar, but it would have taken an unimaginable amount of sugar to make the world look like this. I set a path through the snow towards the woods, listening to the crunch of snow underfoot. Everything else was silent. That was one of my favourite things about snow. It froze the world in silence, stopping time for a while. I walked slowly along the little path into the woods, looking around in awe at the snow. Eventually, and I went further into the trees, I noticed a small grey squirrel following me, scampered along the edge of the path. When I stopped to peer at him, he stopped too, chattering at me irritably. I walked on again, and he followed. Soon, I saw another squirrel, and then a little brown rabbit, all following. When I got to a little clearing, I stopped, and sat down on a snow-covered rock. My animal followers stopped too, looking at me curiously. I heard a snapping twig behind me, and spun around. A doe and her fawn stood there, gazing at me with large brown eyes. A small brown snake slithered through the snow towards me, and a fox appeared at the edge of the clearing, eyeing the rabbit. A few small birds fluttered down from the trees above, followed by a sleek black crow.
I remembered my dream, then. It had had all the same animals, but it had been autumn then, and I had been wearing my red sweater. The wind tousled my hair, and the animals stood there, just looking at me. And then I thought I heard something, at the edge of my mind, telling me something. "Laugh," it said.
So I did.