I thought I was still asleep. My body was still stiff from the plane and my eyes were bleary with the long hours of being thirty thousand feet in the air. But it was the expanse of white and the bit of the cold that seemed to be part of a dream. I had seen pictures of such sights before, but when it spread before me and touched my skin, it was still hard to believe.
The sliding doors hushed open and the wind embraced me with its chilly tendrils. I tried to huddle in my thin coat. I was thankful then for weight of the large duffle on my back. It provided some protection against the frost and cold.
That chill seeped through my worn boots as I padded across the sidewalk with Sandra. She was bundled more effectively against the weather, but our shoes made the same crunch on the white snow. Breath came from our mouths like smoke. The air that entered my lungs was icy and seemed to soak into my body from the inside out. She indulged me with a quick pace and we hurried to the parking lot.
Her small car was already dusted with another layer of white. She couldn’t have been parked long but the flakes coming down around us seemed unending. They decorated my hair and shoulders in tiny dots by the time I slipped into the passenger seat.
I rubbed my hands and gave Sandra a wide but shaky grin as she turned on the heat. She knew how long that flight was so she thoughtfully let me slump into the chair and simply appreciate the view as she swerved into traffic.
On the outskirts of the city, the land was flat and rolling. Clusters of buildings shot up here and there, interrupting the gentle sway of the land covered in an unending white blanket. On the roads though, white turned to gray and then to black as snow melted. Towering banks rose up on either side where the layers had been pushed aside to make way for rush hour. By the time the highway arched towards downtown, the snow and concrete seemed to have come to an arrangement. Each took half of the surfaces available and melded together into a white and stony-scape.
I watched carefully shoveled sidewalks pass us by. People walked down the still slick paths with a lumbering confidence of those who had endured such a climate before. Their heads were bowed and shoulders leant into the wind as if prepared to fight against the inevitable perils of nature.
Through the towering canyon with its shower of new falling flakes came a sight that was significantly lusher. Its dense green and clustered vegetation was a more familiar sight to me, even though the needle covered branches were new and covered in white sheets. It seemed even then, like an oasis amidst the sharp, icy corners of glass and buildings that soared up towards the clouds. I imagined my footsteps sounding on that white blanket of snow. My skin felt of flakes falling onto my upturned forehead as I tried to count each one that fell. Although warmer now, my cheeks still burned with the cold that came with a gust of wind that toppled the frosty mounds of more vulnerable branches.
Sandra turned down a side street towards her apartment, but my eyes lingered. That small bit of home, covered in snow and ice, was one place, in this new and unfamiliar setting, where I wanted to linger.