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Oh, Let It Snow!

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SNOW changes everything. When you're little, it's up to your waist, so instead of walking you sort of swim standing up. Sometimes school is closed. Sometimes the electricity is off and you have to use candles and bake potatoes in the fireplace.

Everything looks different. Garbage cans become trolls and fire hydrants look like Santa's helpers. A friend of mine was walking along after a big blizzard and he heard a hollow sound under his feet, because he was walking on top of a car disguised as a small white whale.

Even with just a little snow, it's like a vacation. A vacation on the moon, because there doesn't seem to be much gravity. You wear thick clothes, so you move slower, and when you fall down, there's so much snow and snowsuit between you and the ground, it hardly hurts. I know, because falling down in the snow is a specialty of mine.

Sometimes I do it for fun. I feel carefree when I toss myself into a really deep, new, fluffy drift. It's like jumping into a feather-bed or an ocean wave, and then you get to watch sparkling snow fly up around you. Sometimes it's a complete surprise. But even when I did a belly-flop off my front steps the first time it snowed after I'd lived in California for eight years, I pretended I did it on purpose. After all, a belly-flop is a good way to get a feel for the particular snow that has just arrived - and also a taste, if you're not careful to close your mouth on takeoff.

Snow changes people, too. The kids in my elementary school got pretty wild when the playground was all white and the cloakroom filled up with boots and snowsuits. At least they didn't laugh at you when you fell down. They joined you. There was only one hill on our playground and kids would skid down it on their boots. The more skidding, the icier it got. And the icier it got, the better they liked it. Everyone would line up at recess, waiting their turn on the snowslide, and when someone fell over, they' d fly down the hill and fall on him. Or her.

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