Snow - Memories - Tears - One With the Universe

Snow came earlier in Santa Fe this year, some nine inches. As I brushed it from my car I noticed how soft and crystal like it was. So pure, so beautiful. Different from the snow in the Midwest where I had grown up.

Other memories came rushing into my head: Snow when I was a child and Dad taking us tobogganing … always home constructed ones, but so much fun going down those hills. Mom waiting at home with hot chocolate and her freshly made cookies. As a teenager, it was snow and ice with ice skating at the local pond hoping the latest crush would ask me to skate or sit next to me at the bonfire we built to keep warm.

Married and with children my role reversed. I watched through the window as they raced down the hill with their sleds. We were fortunate to live so near their grade school which had this magnificent hill where the neighborhood children would gather at the first snow of the season. It was my husband who was with them while I waited inside having the hot chocolate and cookies ready for when they returned home.

Now that I am older two snow memories reside within my brain . Throughout my teaching years we always covered Abraham Maslow’s model. I really believed then that I understood and experienced that highest level “at one with the universe.” Perhaps ego brought that about. What I realize now is that these two memories were when I really understood!

The first was when I was on academic leave traveling in New England visiting former graduate students and eventually my sister-in-law who lived in New Jersey an hour from New York. We had grown up together and loved the same things especially theatre. Whenever I visited her we traveled to the city to take in a matinee, have dinner, then on to an evening performance of a second play. This particular time it was December, so we drove in earlier in order to see the decorated windows so often visited by tourists at the Christmas season. After the matinee we made our way to Rockefeller Center to watch the skaters. It was then the miracle happened.

We were standing on the bridge near the skating rink. Suddenly very soft snow flakes began floating down upon us. I felt what seemed like an electric shock go through my body. As I looked around it seemed like we were part of a Christmas card come to life. There was a transcendence feeling, a unique connection to everything. And me, so typically me, had tears flowing down my cheeks mixing with the snowflakes. So beautiful! Pat, Pat! My sister-in-law calling me broke the spell. Smiling she said “Where were you?”

My second snow miracle occurred when my friend Kathy, from St. Louis, was visiting. We planned to take in La Posada but decided to journey to the Plaza earlier. I was unaware of other events happening there, but we were both thrilled to see a Jewish celebration with song and dance by a huge Menorah . We watched and then participated in the festivities.

Next was La Posada. Lighting our candles we joined the crowd in screaming at the devils. I knew my friend would love those devils! We joked about the fact that in one day we were certainly taking in everything Santa Fe had to offer , Catholic, Jewish , and our last visit would be to the Cantina in La Casa Sena where we would see two of my friends doing a drag show.

Finding our way into the courtyard of the museum, we drank hot cider, ate cookies, then joined the crowd singing the traditional Christmas songs. My friend commented on what a lovely night it was, cold but not extremely so. Just as we are singing with the band “Silent Night” I looked up to see the stars and gazed past the huge cottonwood tree; then it happened again! Softly, so very softly, the snow flakes began falling doing their special dance. Once again, so did my tears … that connection, that strange and wonderful feeling that permeates every cell in your body, and you know you are part of something larger. You are one with the universe!

Not long ago a woman who writes poetry and was attending our New Mexico writer’s networking luncheon , passed out bookmarks with one of her poems on it. The title was “Saving Snowflakes in My Pocket “ by Barbara Jean Ruther. There were five verses all about saving memories . The last is, “Some memories are like snowflakes. No matter how hard you try to save them, they melt away and leave a stain in an empty pocket and in an empty heart.” I have those difficult memories too. However, when I think about these snow experiences, I know they will forever reside within my brain and heart.

As I think about these very special times, yes, the tears flow down my cheeks. I am beginning to realize the tears are a different version of snowflakes - signaling that I finally really know what Maslow meant when he talked about being “one with the universe!”