- Posted February 24, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Did you ever wonder why some people are nuts enough to want to live in places like Iceland (I happen to have a very contented friend who is a professor in Reykievik) or northern Minnesota (they love it there, Do-ehnt yuhh knoawww?)
Well, just the other afternoon, as I was slipping around on the slushy city streets trying to get all my errands done in nearby big-city Cluj before another day off went by, I realized why.
Here was a place that was much like my native Rhode Island (weather-wise) that is, and everyone looked so fresh and happy, even though the wind was biting and they had enough clothes on to fill a second-hand shop. Then I knew it. As I looked over at a little one all bundled up in her pink-puffy snow-baby suit, coordinating mittens with pony motifs dangling, tiny stubby fingers exposed and super cute little fluff-trimmed boots chugging along, I saw that despite the freezing cold, there was a gleam in the eye much like you see in old Santa Claus-and he lives up there in North Pole land-and likes it, too.
What did we do when we were kids? We begged to be outside, nary a care to our wet feet or frozen noses. No, not us. We were the kings and queens of the snowy places. The only thing that’d tear us away from it all was a warm cocoa topped off with gooey-gooey Marshmallow Fluff (NB-it’s an American thing).
I’ve been there and here in the Peace Corps and as I recall, done that, too. The youngest ones love to make snowmen after class by the mountains. The slightly older ones rope me into sledding downhill in wildly fashioned chains of three or four sleds, most of which were no bigger than the length of my right fibula, to careen almost vertical at break-neck speed. Let me tell you, even the risky tobogganing that I took part in with friends in my middle school years in Providence, RI, didn’t hold a candle to how it feels to play and whiz around with the kids here in Romania.
I teach these guys all week and as tired as I sometimes am and even though I’m over fifty, I never miss a chance to share in one of their favorite pastimes outside of school. Everyone should be so lucky. I am. Lucky that is. Just to be here and to know all this stored-in-the-recesses of my memories kind of fun that happened long, long ago. “Back in the day” as we say... it was a good day when the snow fell and the winter was at its boldest.
So now I boldly go where other Peace Corps volunteers have gone before, enjoying the snow-castles, soaking up the snow-shine, listening to the snow-birds, and living the snow-woman kind of life (occasionally feeling a bit like an icicle-but with extreme pleasure).
Now when I look at those frosty trees, the funny shaped snow-people and the bluest of skies overhead, I can remember how I once had a love for the winter back in Romania-land. The wonderland of winters to recall every time I say to my grandchildren: “You know, I used to walk over two miles every day in the snow to teach school in the countryside when I was in the Peace Corps.” And they won’t laugh in disbelief like I did when I was young and my Dad told me the same story. At least not until I fall flat on my behind because of the ice on the way into the Home Depot to buy some more shovels.