Where It Never Snows

I went down in early December to visit my family in Arizona.  I accompanied them to a midnight pageant at their church.  I basked in the glow of the Nativity, sat in the warm dark enveloped by voices raised in song, endured the firm handshakes in the lobby from men in gray suits.  When it was all over, we stepped out into the winter night and found that it was snowing outside.  The snow drifted heavy through the brown lights of the street lamps and it was already thick across the desert floor and on the arms of a nearby cactus and across the clay roof of the old Spanish church.  Everyone grinned as the snow flakes sparkled in their eyelashes, and they reached out their cupped palms to gather the flakes as they fell right into their hands.

My cousin asked me to drive his car, since he had no experience driving in the snow.  We all piled in and I cranked up the heat and the defroster as the wipers brushed aside the snow that had gathered on the windshield.  As the car warmed up, we sat listening to the radio and the news reporter said that it was snowing all over the state, far out into the desert, far out into the dark beyond the lights.  They were calling for several inches of accumulation.  By morning they were going to have to bring in plows from up north.  They’d never seen anything like it.

I slowly made my way through the empty streets, the colored lights and huddled figures blurred and indistinguishable beyond the swirling shrouds of white.  There was a party going when we got back to the house, the cars all parked this way and that in the driveway and out along the curb.  There were shadows of people at the windows, marveling at the falling snow.  Inside they greeted me warmly with pats on the back, and my aunt was telling everybody how I’d driven them all home.  I got to talking to one of my uncles and he took me to a room in the back where he kept tapes of every phone call he’d ever made.  He played some of the more amusing ones.  I just laughed along.  Everything was alright.  It was a snowy night, and we were all here together.

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4 thoughts on “Where It Never Snows

  1. It was a weird touch, but you know at those family get togethers there's always an uncle that has some sort of collection or maybe like a ham radio or souvenirs from WWII or something, some interesting oddity he insists on drawing people away from the party to show them.

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  2. Your writing goes on getting better: prose written with the care and flair of poetry.

    The alchemy of dreams and their retelling is a bit like the technique mentioned in Leonardo's notebooks (if I recall correctly) of seeing pictures in random cracks in the wall. For I notice that dreams which last only a few seconds sometimes have their own back story, which may be unique or may relate to another dream earlier. I know they sometimes last only a few seconds because K tells me so.

    The uncle's phone calls were impressive but best of all for me was the snowflakes sparkling in the eyelashes, while imagining “that it was snowing all over the state, far out into the desert, far out into the dark beyond the lights.”

    This along with the phone calls from (perhaps) long ago gives a sense of transcending space and time, not to mention the Arizonean climate.

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  3. I was picturing Leonardo wandering around candlelit caverns and voyeuristic spying on his neighbors by putting his eye to a hole in the wall, but then I looked at the word “random” and it occurred to me that you might have meant seeing patterns and pictures in the cracks themselves, the way people often look for shapes in the clouds. I often find faces and figures in wallpaper patterns and stains on walls and unevenly textured paint.

    But returning to Leonardo spying on his neighbors. That made me think of how around the turn of the 20th century people at carnivals used to pay to look through a lens at a tiny picture, or they would crank the handle on the side to see a short series of moving pictures (Now, I'm not sure if I'm recalling correctly.) That in a way too, is kind of like this “alchemy of dreams and their retelling.”

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