It’s February. The land where I was born is still wrapped in a deep freeze. Delicate icicles dangle from roof tops, breath creates a halo of white smoke around the living. Here in Arizona I already feel rumbles of spring, buds are budding and crocuses blooming and we didn’t even really get a winter; it was the hottest January on record.
Winter memories from childhood grab me. There was silence among the snow and the trees, save for a delightful crunching beneath my feet, my quick breathing. There was the bite of cold air on my face, my only exposed skin. The cold would burn in my nostrils and make my toes go numb yet still, it was thrilling. As the sun would sink towards the horizon, my friends and I would pull our plastic sleds to the nearest hill and slide down and down and down. All would rush by in a white blur and if I was tossed off I would lie on my back for a moment to find my breath while gazing at the twinkling stars above.
There was the slide of car on ice, the pumping of brakes, the whispered prayers.
There was the slide of blades on ice, the spinning, the fall to earth.
There was the smell of snow.
Motherhood unlocked a part of me that misses my birthplace, its seasons and rhythms. I think about going back sometimes, but I have a life here, one that is happy and full. I chose this place. Our family was created and recreated here. The roots we have cultivated run deep.
My daughter will grow up to have a totally different sense of place. Her eyes learned to focus gazing on the saffron, cloudless sky, delicate mesquite leaves, stately saguaro arms. She heard a snake’s rattle before she could sit up. She learned to walk on rocky mountain trails. She likely will always feel at home here, under the intense yellow sun.
Perhaps she too will have memories that sing to her in the quiet nights of her future, as her winding path pulls her near to me and away from me and back home again.