Before I came to Hamilton College, I had never seen snow.
I had seen it on television and in pictures, of course. The seasonal holiday episodes of my favorite cartoons always made me a little jealous as perfectly round globes of snow fell onscreen, creating winter fun for all. My friends and I would dream of snowball fights, of wearing boots, warm hats and scarves, of snow days and white Christmases.
It seemed unfair. Whenever winter came around in Torrance, Calif., the closest thing to snow we got was the fake stuff at Disneyland and the occasional light drizzle. These facts have become a punch line for my new friends at Hamilton. I am their “California friend,” the one who had never seen snow fall, whose lips turn blue as soon as she walks outside, who is still stunned when she sees temperatures drop below zero — the one who has to put on at least five layers of clothes before she even thinks about going outside.
The first night it snowed, I saw the small flakes falling from the sky outside my window, sticking to the branches and rooftops. I ran down the stairs and outside in my pajamas and slippers and stood there on the pavement, feeling the wind and the flakes land and melt on my skin. My first snow, and it was an absolutely beautiful thing.
The snow has been incessant since then. There is something so magical about looking outside, seeing snowflakes fall, the children from the day care center sledding, smoke rising from the chimneys. After 18 years of looking outside at smog and palm trees, the crisp white snowy winter of Hamilton is a lovely change of scenery.