The quality of the music being played on this random Rhode Island radio station is immaculate: 70s and 80s tunes, classic rock, oldies but goldies. I can hear my dad softly humming to a familiar tune as he lightly taps the steering wheel. He’s staring out the window into the quiet, empty meadows of the northeast, counting in his mind how many cows, horses and barns we see. The amount of people we see is zero. The amount of other cars we see is zero. In the midst of the silence, I realize the familiar tune on the radio is a former favorite song of mine that got lost in one of my 3,000 song playlists. The name of the song got lost, its lyrics got lost, its melody got lost, but the second I listen to it again, it all comes back and I realize it was never lost at all.
We cross the border into New Hampshire, the large bright blue sign welcoming us: “Bienvenue a New Hampshire! Live free or die!” New Hampshire does seem free: free of any sound, free of any people, free of anything bad in this world. The mountains are starting to call, their tall grandeur screaming for attention as if to say, “Look at me! Look at me! Aren’t I glorious?” You are, little mountain, you are. Even if you’re just a tiny hill in the monstrosity of the northeastern mountain ranges, you’re glorious, and no one in the white Ford my family drives could stop staring in awe. Tiny specks of white start appearing, bundled up in hills on people’s backyards and on the side of the road, and my mother confirms what I suspected all along: that’s snow.
Snow! Snow! Not so white and not so pure, since it’s muddled up with grass and mud and partially melted snow, but snow! Whoa! This small family of Brazilians can’t believe it! The coldest temperatures we’ve ever had were 68 degrees Fahrenheit! Snow really exists? We wouldn’t know!
At that moment, it was as if my mother had opened up Pandora’s box. Everything stopped. Well, everything except my dad’s driving for purely safety reasons. We all know he wanted to stop dead in his tracks. Even though he has traveled all over the world, seen snow multiple times, and so has my mother (I vividly remember the photo album of their Patagonia trip), they got excited like kids who were seeing it for the first time. Just like my sister and I. It was as if we all shared a collective “first”; my parents forgot all their ski trips. Their daughters were seeing snow for the first time. So were they.
My dad contained his excitement for a short moment as he looked for a safe place to pull over. We were still near a main road though, so we were very vigilant. Don’t worry, reader. We’re all alive to tell this story. Besides picking a safe place to stop, my dad managed to also coincidentally pick the most perfect bundle of snow in New Hampshire in March. It was fluffy, but also crunchy, and it perfectly covered the entirety of the grassy area on the side of the road. It was actual snow, not melted, not mixed with mud, not wet. Not enough to build a snowman, but it was REAL SNOW! We took pictures, and there was such a gorgeous, full cover of snow that we could’ve fooled the folks back home in Miami that we actually went in December and just overstayed our welcome in New England.
I turned from my family to stare off into the wide open spaces all around me, and I realized all was quiet. It was oh, so quiet. I had never felt such a deafening silence in my whole life and I am yet to feel anything like it. However, even though it was so quiet, it was also so terribly loud. In the silence, I could hear all of the wonders of the world coming together to say hello. I could hear God’s soft footsteps around the forest, making sure everyone was in order, making sure everything was quiet.
The quiet is suddenly interrupted by a thud on my back. I turn around and see my little sister laughing like the world is ending after throwing a snowball right at me. For a first-timer, her aim is surprisingly good. I shoot her back and before both of us realize it, the whole family is in a full-blown snowball war. Our laughter is intoxicating, breezing across the trees like the silent wind, making the leaves move in unison as if they were dancing the waltz. Now, it is no longer quiet. Like the good Brazilians we are, we are legally obligated to be loud at all times. We are so loud we get the attention of a couple of truck drivers who honk at us, smiling.
Spring has always been my favorite season. The growth of the flowers and the delicate sun always seemed very fitting for my birthday season. However, for that one brief moment, winter became my favorite. In the midst of our cackling, slippery mess, I saw the joy that can come out of dark, wet afternoons. Even though the sun sets at 4:30 PM, all that means is that the sun will rise sooner. Winter teaches you to be an optimist. Winter teaches you to slip and laugh. It teaches you to get out of bed early so you can enjoy the sunshine. It teaches you that, just like Les Mis said, a little fall of rain can hardly hurt you now; it could be snowy and windy and hailing and raining and thundering all at the same time! It teaches you to notice change, to notice each new leaf falling from the trees. It teaches you that rain, even if it comes frozen, will make the flowers grow, just as Claude-Michel Schönberg predicted. And you make sure to notice every part of the blooming.