I am a book of snow,
a spacious hand, an open meadow,
a circle that waits,
I belong to the earth and its winter.
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)
In March 1993, I was in college and decided to surprise my family and come home for the weekend. Because I was in
South Carolina, I’d not heard of the weather event coming—I just packed an overnight bag and headed up the mountain to Asheville. When I arrived, my parents, sister, and I piled in the car and headed over to our favorite Chinese restaurant. As we ate dinner, the snow slowly started to trickle out of the sky. By the time we got home, it was a steady whirlwind of fat flakes blanketing the earth. At 10pm, we were up to 8 inches without an end in sight.
My mother and I had stayed up to revel in the excitement of this unique weather event. About midnight, we decided to throw on some warm clothes and head out into the neighborhood. As we walked down the street, we noticed how quiet it was. I remember stopping on the sidewalk and just listening. It was like a quiet I had never experienced. It felt as if peace was surrounding us, enveloping us—as if the snow had become more than just frozen water vapor and had truly taken on its own sense of calm.
Mom and I walked around the neighborhood, down Kimberly Avenue, and back home again. It is one of my favorite memories I have with my mother. In the challenging years known as adolescence, it can be hard for mothers and daughters to find common ground, to find peace in their relationship. That night, the calm and gentle snow offered us that “piece of peace,” a gift I will never forget.