I grew up in upstate New York, in a place where it would start snowing in late November and continue through March. I remember being thrilled to see the first crocus sometime in February or March, and spring fever was more than just a phrase.
The first snow of the season was fun, but quickly lost its appeal, especially since I had a long walk to school (starting in junior high).
There was one first snow that I will never forget though.
In my city the Jewish elementary school depended in large part on Israeli shlichim (or yordim - those who left Israel for good) for their Hebrew language teachers and, in some cases, their religious studies teachers.
When I was in fifth or sixth grade, one of my teachers was an Israeli, who came to America with a few young kids who studied in our school. One cold day in late November the inevitable white flakes started to fall, and we looked with interest out of the window, but continued with our lesson.
Then one of the teachers came to the door with a wide smile on her face and beckoned everyone to come quickly. We had no idea what she wanted, but our teacher gave us permission to leave our seats and follow her. She then led us to a wide window, and we looked out onto a wonderful sight.
One of our new teacher's children was outside. Growing up in Israel, he had never seen snow before, and today was a very special day for him. To our amused eyes, he was literally singing and dancing as the delicate white flakes surrounded him. Every once in a while he would open his mouth to let a snowflake fall onto his tongue, trying to enjoy this new experience with as many senses as possible. Many of us then raced to get our coats and gloves, and ran outside to teach him the other ways to enjoy the snow (snowmen and snowball fights predominated - there still wasn't enough on the ground to teach him about snow angels, though).
The teachers looked at us through the window. As a child I couldn't really understand the expression on their faces, but as an adult looking back I can. They were looking with wonder, and probably a bit of envy, at someone who was experiencing the pure joy of a new and exciting experience.
I can understand their envy today. When was the last time you felt that kind of joy? I feel that way once in a while in Israel, as I discover another thing that I love about this country. But otherwise it is a feeling that comes only once in a blue moon.
When was the last time you felt pure joy?