The First Snow

My First Ukrainian Snow

My First Ukrainian Snow

On a chilly Wednesday evening, I witnessed my first Ukrainian snowfall. It was silent and beautiful. We had just left the house to run out for some snacks to nibble on while we watched a movie. As I turned on my flashlight, I noticed little white flakes fluttering to the ground. My fellow PCTs, who are both from Minnesota, did not return my enthusiasm. I skipped down the street, and they tried not to be too embarrassed.

The first flakes were short-lived, and by the time we finished the movie, they had disappeared. It was only November 21, and I reasoned, from my knowledge of holiday movies and television specials, that real snow wouldn’t stick until December. How wrong I was.

I awoke on Sunday morning to a blinding white landscape. I stepped outside to christen my winter boots and was smacked in the face by the coldest wind I have ever felt. The shock of its force actually amused me. It looked so peaceful and calm, but it packed a punch. I crunched my way to the bathroom, and was pleasantly surprised how much warmer it was out of the wind’s reach.

When I came back inside, I proudly proclaimed to my host family, “Cnih! (snow)!” They were even less enthused than the Minnesotans. I decided to go to the school gym, because it is theoretically open on Sunday mornings. I say theoretically because I have tried to go practically every Sunday for the past two months and have only found it open once.

I was far from shocked that it was closed, especially considering the weather. I really just wanted an excuse to stomp around in my boots and parka. As I trudged through the snow, I noticed I was not the only one who wanted to play in the powder. I was however, the only one above the age of 10. This fact has never prevented me from enjoying myself in America, so I decided it shouldn’t stop me in Ukraine.

I threw snowballs, built a snowman, and pushed a cute little girl around on a sled. Unfortunately, the coming of winter also means the days are markedly shorter. It was only 4 p.m. and the sun was already on its way down. Not wanting to walk home in a dark snowstorm, I had to bid the children adieu and start my hike back. 

Growing up in Texas in the 21st century, I never thought I’d be able to say, “When I was your age, I had to walk two miles in the snow to get home.” But that’s just one of the ways my world is expanding these days.

About Claire St. Amant

Claire St. Amant, one of Editor & Publisher's Top 25 Under 35 in the newspaper industry, is a graduate of Baylor University. Claire was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine and has also lived in South America. She has written for a variety of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Houston Chronicle, and D Magazine.