Reverence for the Ordinary
Honorable Mention, Young Adult Essay Category; 2010 Bethesda Magazine/Bethesda Urban Partnership Short Story and Essay Contest
I believe that once a stretch of land is covered with snow, you should keep it as smooth and perfect as possible. That means no tramping across it in snow boots, no snow angels, and be careful with your snowballs. Tiptoeing around the edge is permissible, and of course you can set aside other patches of snow for protective forts and miniature snowmen. But you should never, ever needlessly waste an untouched area of snow.
After a recent snowfall, my sister persuaded me to join her “sledding.” It was 5 o’clock in the evening, and the snow, struggling against the 38-degree weather, had just managed to hold on to its depth of three and three-quarters of an inch. Sighing, I laced up my snow boots and contemplated various excuses to avoid digging up grass and dead leaves with a sled. Looking out the window, I was surprised to see that our lawn, which had been an immaculate expanse that morning, was now cut by a big set of footprints. They stomped from our front door down the lawn, straight across the snow-covered street, and then up the next person’s lawn. I realized that this was most likely the man who had rung the doorbell at 10:30 this morning, offering to shovel our driveway for a fee. I stuffed my hands into a pair of my brother’s gloves went outside.
That night, snow fell again, and in between rejoicing over the likelihood of having school canceled, I peered through the same window. The wind had let the forest have some peace, so snow gathered on tree branches to coat them carefully like a cake chef applying frosting. The evergreen trees received fat puffs of white, the skeletal ones a delicate, lacey dress. And the front lawn was a flawless sea of white. The street and sidewalk were nowhere to be found, smoothed out of existence by the snow. For all I knew, my world of lines and edges defining where one yard ended and another began had never even been there. It had been replaced by this fantasyland of perfection. That evening, I watched the pure, clear colors of a winter sunset fade into an ice-blue night.
It’s so easy to walk through life without giving anything a second glance. The snow comes and melts quietly every winter, but is mainly remembered as a school-child liberator or a traffic nuisance. Not that we should underestimate the power of Mother Nature, or try to back out into streets covered by three feet of snow. But I believe that there are amazing things all around us, even if we seldom appreciate them. I believe that it is always a good thing to admire ordinary phenomena, even if it makes you feel like a five-year-old. In fact, I think that it’s a healthy feeling, and I always feel a little happier when I choose to tiptoe around the edge of my snowy driveway instead of walk over it.
Tarika Sankar is a sophomore at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, where she takes creative writing as an elective class. She lives in Rockville with her parents, brother and sister.