I never quite believe the first snowfall. It’s got to be a hoax, a trick... it’s too good to be true.
Philly got a few inches over Thanksgiving. A beautiful but fleeting dusting. Not quite a real storm. It’s long gone, melted by the stubbornly warm earth. In the city, daytime temperatures are back to pushing fifty degrees. The ground is dry and the skies are clear. There’s no evidence to prove that there was snow here last week.
It wouldn’t be the first time I imagined snow.
All September, October, and November, I wait for it. I see it everywhere. I mistake it for specks of dirt on my car windshield, and in the sparkles of light reflecting through the window. Often, I see a suspiciously white fleck fall on a rainy day, taking the lazy trajectory of something slightly lighter than the rest of the raindrops. It looks distinctively…well, fluffy. I do a double-take, staring up at the sky. The flake is gone. Squinting my eyes and blinking away the drops, I tilt my head and look for more—dare I say it?—snow. Only streams of rain plunge to the ground. Perhaps it fell to its early-season fate, melted by the stubbornly warm earth.
Or maybe it was just an illusion. I sink back into my scarf and trudge along disappointed, wishing my winter boots had something more substantial to slog through than sidewalk rain puddles.
I pray for that little snowflake icon to replace the raindrop on my phone’s weather app, but I don’t check the weather report every morning for snow. I can’t do that to myself. Snow will come when it comes. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. I can never be entirely sure that it’ll fall this year. It’s been so long.
All it took was that magical combination of 32 degrees and precipitation. The winds whipped up and dropped the season’s first goods last week here in the Philly burbs. I almost turned away when someone shouted, “Look, it’s snowing!” I couldn’t get my hopes up on another bluff. But no skier or boarder can ignore the call of the first snow.
The air was peppered with floating white crystals drifting with the same ease as autumn’s mirage flakes. The sky was full of them. I pulled out my camera to capture the moment, to prove that it’s happening—that real-life, actual genuine snow came from above. Then came the joyous squeals, the involuntary giggles, the impromptu jig.
Outside my window right now, it looks bleak. The grass is dead; the ground is bare. But they say there’s still snow up in the Poconos from the Thanksgiving storm. There’s a foot still on the ground up north in New England. That’s got to be proof enough—now I can finally trust that winter is coming. No, we’ve already had the first snow. Winter is here.
This is the second of a series called Dropping In which highlights all the best milestones in kicking off a new ski season. For serious skiers and boarders in the Delaware Valley, visiting Salter’s is one of these annual rites. Check back into the blog later to see what other moments we’re looking forward to.
Joining the Salter’s crew to write Dropping In and other stories is Clare Menzel, a New Hampshirite studying philosophy in her final year at the University of Pennsylvania. As it always happens in this close and familiar northeastern ski world, Clare’s parents are family friends—way back from the old college days in New England. She is the Women’s Alpine Captain of the Penn ski team and has written for Powder Magazine and Powder’s blog.