Two years ago, my husband, then four-and-half-year-old son, and I took a trip together to the snow in Truckee, California. This was only our second trip to the snow ever as a family, more inclined toward vacations in the heat. California is a big state–at its very southern end it was probably 75 degrees on the same day we climbed steadily up into the 30 degree mountains where the sturdy evergreens became first spotted with white, and then drenched in caps of snow.
I don’t remember many specifics of the trip. We didn’t ski or snow shoe. When I think back on that little trip what looms is one moment, maybe all of five minutes total, that captivates me: We’d just spent ten minutes tossing snowballs at each other after tubing at the nearby resort, and were limp from laughing, all three of us, sweating beneath our layers of gear, despite the sharp chill of the air that touched our unprotected faces. The light in the sky dulled to a mottled lavender, the last of the sun’s gentle rays fanning out like a spotlight receding. My son’s cheeks were pink and he was smiling so big I just knew that this was a memory imprinting itself in his little neurons. Right then fat, gentle snow flurries began to fall around us, muffling out sounds. As a California girl, snow delights me in a way I can’t really explain—it has a mysterious quality, a setting for all those dark woodsy fairytales I read as a child. We whooped and ran around in it, tasted a few snowflakes and then cuddled close to each other, watching the snow in a hush and I felt full and complete. Then, at last, as it grew dark, we trucked off to get hot cocoa and warm up in our room.
We move so fast through our lives we often forget to stop in those small, glowing moments and pay close attention, to let our heart swell with brief but potent love of being alive. I collect and hold these moments close, resurrecting them when I’m feeling low.
Take out your journal and try this prompt:
Stop and think of a moment in your life that is stuck in your memory for its magical, startling or even just nostalgic power. Describe it. Where were you? Who were you with? What made it so wonderful. If you were to tell the story to another person, how would you talk about it? See if you can’t wake up that same feeling of awe in you right now.
Photo credit: “Diary” by Magic Madzik is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.