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.