I sat in a cafe this morning, drinking coffee and reading Death Of A Salesman, while throwing an occasional glance towards the snow falling outside the window. It was the first real snow of the winter, well, for the past two years, and seemed to have been met with both welcome and disdain. It is beautiful to look at, but it doesn’t take much of it to disrupt our plans.
We have an Angolan student staying with us, and this for him was his very first experience of this type of weather. Our recent dearth of the stuff allowed me to view it like he did, for it is just, I think, over familiarity that allows us to become blasé about the world around us.
The kids had been excited on the school run. I would say that they had been both racing ahead, and delaying their arrival at school, if that wasn’t such a contradiction. My seven year old daughter exclaimed dramatically “I hope I don’t die, I will never see snow again!”
Turning from a main thoroughfare onto a small cul-de-sac, both children stopped as they appeared dumbstruck at the sight of the fresh snow lay out before them, all encompassing snow that held no tracks or footprints.
“Can we go over it ?” my five year old son asked, as though sensing immaturely something sacred about its form.
I laughed, “Of course you can! Off you go over the virgin snow.”
The boy ran ahead, but his older sister paused, asking characteristically: “What does virgin mean?”
I started to think about context. Something unspoilt, untarnished. Something pure, without taint or blemish. Of course this line of thought led to what was meant by a virgin. Again, someone unspoilt, untainted, pure. But this only holds if we view sex as something dirty, sinful. Something spoiling. Which of course it isn’t (again, allowing for context). It is attitudes and perspectives that are spoiling, not the natural act itself.
Of course I said none of this. “It’s just snow that nobody has trodden on yet. Get going!”
She raced off, following her brother, both of them in their joy taking the snow’s virginity.