Hello, snow.

3 Jan

Why hello there, snow. Where have you been? Your absence has allowed my sister, brother, and me to race around our hometown on Christmas break, ratcheting up outdoor miles as the street salt kicks up the back of our legs and our breath puffs out in small clouds. Andy, heading out first, runs loops around the town center, heads into other towns on long, hilly roads, and circles home, training for his first Boston Marathon in April.  Julie, heading out next, sometimes runs with me, but on her own sprints to the next town over and then back again, cheeks red from cold. Me? I’m the last of the three siblings to complete a half marathon, never mind a marathon, in the slowest time. I head out last, sprinting harder up the hill on Church Street when my asthma acts up so I can cough it out and keep going. When I run the paths around home, I’m running through memories thick as fog. When I run along the chain-link fence by the Progressive Club, it’s fall, and I am sixteen and walking with my backpack to pick up my brother from elementary school, walking him across the church yard to teach his CCD class. When I go on by the Blanchard School, it’s a cool August morning, and I am six years old and walking with my mother on my first day to kindergarten in what was then the nation’s oldest continually running wooden schoolhouse. When I round the corner by the Baptist Church, I’m eight, and my mother is pulling my younger sister in our red wagon to the old Hay Wagon ice cream stand, and it’s summer, and I swear this time I’ll convince them to let me get bubble gum ice cream, even though my friend Eleanor told me that if you swallow bubble gum it stays in your stomach for 70 years. When I follow the sidewalk up by Saint Mary’s cemetery, I am seventeen, and I’m walking home mid-day when I should be in school, and watching as the blurry line of long cars exits the grassy field of granite stones, fresh turned dirt over the grave of the 12-year-old boy I mentored at summer camp. Every step bears some trace of the twenty-four years spent in this town. But now, temporarily, the past is covered with a thick piles of frozen whiteness, the storm threatens not to stop for another day, and we’re all inside, for a few days, or weeks, or months, until the sun comes up and the weather warms and the thaw sets in, and the snow becomes translucent and old memories break through their blanket covering, open and exposed and asking to be tread on once more.

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