Living in equatorial Singapore, us Singaporeans have little chance to experience 10 deg C temperatures, let alone snow. It was a magical moment, thus, when we actually got the opportunity to touch the magical white powder. Another story based on past experiences, this one is about the happiest moments I had during a trip abroad. The defining feature of this piece...it's very happy. Perhaps overly so.
The moment the SUV turned the corner, three squeals of delight erupted in the vehicle, and the car rocked slightly as its foreign occupants curged to the left side to peer out the windows. For, out there, between the blades of still-green grass by the roadside, there was snow.
For you, it was the first time you'd glimpsed real snow in all its frigid splendour, save for one of you who'd had the fortune of emigrating to Singapore from Europe. There was wonder all over our faces, as the snow got thicker and the car proceeded higher, and higher. There was eagerness in our ceaseless, irrepressible chatter, as we prepared for the inevitable arrival at the summit of this mountain, hauling coats over our shoulders and preparing our cameras, the last point done to the knowing amusement of our hosts.
They'd offered to bring us specially up the mountain, to let us, for the first time in our lives, touch and hold and throw and roll in glorious snow! And as your delighted laughter filled the car, we pulled into the parking lot of a closed ski lift station, and we finally burst out of the car, propelled by our powerful curiosity and indefatigable enthusiasm.
Standing wonderingly this the frozen landscape, I took a moment to look around as you piled out of the car. In front, beyond the parking lot, there was a scattering of real Christmas trees laden with the whitest of snow. And beyond that, the vast expanse of greener fields, the glittering lake and the gemlike city that bordered it, and way beyond that, incredibly, another vast chain of mountains, white-tipped and thrusting magestically into the deep blue sky, a facsimilie of the puffy clouds brought to ground level. And to the left, a log cabin, garlanded by icicles and topped by a white roof, nestled among the pine trees. And to the right, our hosts, beckoning for us to follow them up the closed ski slope, inviting us to bury ourselves in knee-deep snow.
And at my feet, the snow itself. Tangible, touchable and so invitingly close.
I bent down then, yanking off the glove of one hand, curiously touching the snow and finding it strangely...warm. The softness melted at my touch, and emboldened by the wonderful feeling, I scooped a handful of the light powder, watching some grains twirl away, glittering in the afternoon sun. The snow was cold, but it was also puffy, like talcum powder. And it was beautiful, a crystal world coming alive with induced life when I moved it into better light.
And then, the most juvenile of thoughts popped into my spellbound consciousness: what was snow best for?
But you'd beaten me to it, and I felt a wet thud on my back. I'd spun around to see your beaming face, hand still outstretched, and the glove still bearing traces of the snowball you'd send hurtling my way, I beamed childishly back, raising my own arm, and you screamed in delighted joy, trying to dodge but in vain as the snowball hit you. And, laughing and hurling the powder at one another, we moved in the general direction of the retreating figures of our hosts.
We wandered up a shallow slope, our boots crunching on the snow, sinking ankle-deep. We sloughed through the snow, leaving long trenches where we'd dragged our feet, trying to churn up and be immersed in as much snow as possible. playfully, I'd snuck up on one of you, as you were gazing wonderingly at the surrounding pine forest. I dumped a handful of snow on your head then, watching the crystals tumble down your hair, encrusting the strands with an infinity of minuscle diamonds glittering in the sun. You turned to face me, surprised, and suddenly indignant, scooping up handfuls of snow yourself and hurling them at me, as I stumbled in the snow, laughing with the sheer, simple joy of it.
Then we emerged from the corridor of pines, to face a most impressive slide of white, a slope of knee deep snow speckled with the colourful jackets of visitors huffing up or jumping down the slope. Unable to believe my eyes, I sprinted forward, crunching through thickening snow and then tripping on a buried iceblock and falling to one knee. And you guys had caught up, looking up the slope, eager to tackle it and catch up with our deftly climbing hosts.
And then we'd climbed the slope, stumbling along the way, reaching out to clasp one another's hands and hauling one another up another wondrous metre, and another. And halfway up, I'd run forward again, eager to overcome this unbelievable, long-awaited challenge of scaling a snowy slope myself. I climbed up, step after sinking step, and by the time I'd gotten to the next flat level, I was gasping from the exertion, as if trying to draw the magic of the mountaintop into my lungs with the sweet oxygen. And as I surveyed the next stretch of snow, you descended upon me, two of you pummeling me with more snow, the other clicking away with that bulky camera of yours. Giggling and winded, we'd fallen into the snowy ground, sitting there among the slowly descending flakes, enjoying the strange coldness and yet basking in the simple pleasures of playful friendship.
Seeing that we'd be overcome with exhilaration if we ventured higher, our hosts then indicated that we shuold descend. Standing up, I'd offered you my hand, and helped you up as you got back onto your feet, the snow cascading off your black coat and jeans in a shower of whitest sugar. And going down, we soon discovered that we couldn't really keep our footing, and in the end we ended up back on our bottoms, sliding down the snow, arms linked, yelling all the way down, to the embarrassed amusement of our more sure-footed hosts.
On solid ground again, we'd proceeded back to the car, winded and exuberant. Then, we'd seen a bank of snow, and I dived onto it with you, in a combined attempt to make a couplet of snow angels. But the snow was too hard, and not deep enough, and abit disappointed, we'd gotten back to the path, leaving our half-formed angels crumbling into themselves. Then we'd chanced upon a frozen puddle, and, delighted, we'd jumped onto it, cracking the surface and delighting in the water that seeped out. We splashed in the puddles then, on a long-buried impulse that could never have been realised in the orderly concrete red dot that we call home.
Finally, we were full of the chaleur de bonheur, warmed by our exploits and fulfilment of our childhood dreams. We proceeded back down the pine corridor, towards the SUV. And as we walked, talking about the wonderful fun that we'd had, the greatest release of tension we would ever have that month, I'd noticed the sky getting mistier. And then I realised that God had one more present for us that day.
I'd declared that it was snowing, awestruck.
And then, with renewed enthousiasm, you'd run around, exhilarated by a real snowfall. The flakes filtered down, twirling in the air, sprinkling us with the wonderful crystals of snow. We watched, entranced, as the flakes dipped and looped in the turbulence of our breaths, giving an awesome aerobatic performance before evaporating into nothingness. We tried catching a few on our tongues, like what we'd seen in cartoons of old. And, of course, the cameras were whipped out again, capturing the misty drift of airborne snow for posterity.
For those most memorable two hours, we'd forgotten our age, our prejudices, our responsibilities, delighting instead and completely in the utterly natural play in the snow. For those two magical hours, our most precious dreams, and my deepest hope, had come true . It would be a safe bet to say that we'd all enjoyed ourselves to the utmost.
And as we left this wondrous place reluctantly, leaving behind a trail of depressions, footprints and tracks in the snow, the snow continued to fall, sprinkling this charmed mountaintop with stardust, with little crystals of heaven.