A snow day at the Washington Monument

Posted on Monday, Feb 23, 2015

Everything was white.
The ground was covered in a pale, smooth blanket of snow and the sun reflected off its surface, making it shine with a heavenly light.  It was flawless.  It was as though the entire earth had been covered in a velvety smooth cloth…and it was calling my name.  It wanted me to experience its softness in all its beauty.
It was the first time I had ever seen snow, laid like a four-inch blanket atop the ground.  The trees were bare besides a topping of the white wintery frost.  With joy in my heart, I leapt from my bed, dressed rapidly, and prepared to go outside in the beckoning blanket, daring me to step into its fluffy, velvety appearance and make the perfect surface imperfect with my footprints separating the snow with carefully placed steps.
As I applied layer after layer of clothing to keep me warm (two pairs of pants, thick socks, three shirts, two coats, a scarf, a hat, and gloves), I could not help but think of Randy from A Christmas Story.  The scene of his mother preparing him for school flashed through my mind, when she pulled on jacket after jacket and finally wrapped his entire head in a scarf.  He cried, and his mother removed the scarf.  “I can’t put my arms down!”  His arms bounced back up every time his mother tried to push them down.  “Well, you can put your arms down when you get to school.”  Randy wailed as she rewrapped his head in the scarf and pushed him out the door.
What if I can’t move my arms?!  Hesitantly, worriedly, I dropped them and sighed with relief when I felt them hit my sides.  With a slight smile, I walked out of the apartment with one of my roommates, and we met several others from the program down in the lobby of the Buchanan.  Together, we rode the metro into Washington, D.C. and exited at the Federal Triangle station.  As we climbed up the escalator, the cold wind struck each of us, shocking our systems and causing a few to yelp in surprise (yes, including me).  As we stepped out of the station, we took our first steps into the winter wonderland that surrounded us.
Immediately, we went to the piled-up snow and pounced into it, like a great cat going after its prey.  We picked up powdery snow in our hands, formed them into terrible-looking snowballs, and started throwing them at each other as we were walking toward the Washington Monument.  We were laughing in glee, in utter joy with giant grins on our faces.  I looked down at the snow…and decided I wanted to make a snow angel.
When I hit the ground, Randy in A Christmas Story reappeared in my memory.  He rolled from side to side on the ground, his big jacket being covered in the powdery white snow as he screamed Ralphie’s name and simple yet powerful four-word phrase: “I can’t get up!  I can’t get up!  I can’t get up!”  I made my snow angel and paused for a moment, shifting my weight to see if I could rise.  I brought my knees up under me and pushed myself forward and up out of the snow.  I think the smile that occurred afterward was more from being able to stand and less from looking at my masterpiece which I had made.  The angel was hard to see in the flawlessly white snow, but it was there.  I nodded in approval and hurried after the group.
When we finally arrived at the Washington Monument, I marveled at the perfection before me.  No words can describe the cacophony of emotions that raced through my head.  Wonder.  Exhilaration.  Joy.
The snow gave a satisfying crunch with my every step.  I increased the speed and height of my steps, practically leaping like a gazelle, skipping through the snow like a child would’ve done.  I kicked it up with my feet, watching the snow spread out and away in a powdery cloud.  I launched myself back into the blanket and let its wetness surround me and my coat as I made another snow angel (a much better one, I might add).  My face was cold, but nothing could tear the happiness from me as I danced in the wintery beauty I had never before experienced. 
We laughed.  We had a snowball fight.  In that one day alone, I took over 200 pictures, between going out in the morning with other Aggies and my afternoon exploring alone.  It was truly incredible, only made better by the fact that it was on a Tuesday.  A day that I would have been at the office, otherwise.  Instead, I was marveling at the simple purity of snow.
I think people thought we were a little…strange as we were jumping through the snow like we were six years old.  But we had no shame.  We were from Texas!  How often did we snow?  How often did we get to be knee-deep in the pure, white substance so associated with winter?  The answers to all of those questions was NEVER for me.  There was never snow in Houston.  Ever.  We would occasionally get ice, but that was the extent of “winter.”  I knew that Washington, D.C. actually had winter weather when I applied for PPIP, but somehow it never registered in my head that we would actually have snow. 

But we did.  And we still do.  As I’m writing this on February 22, snow covers the ground outside, although it’s not nearly as beautiful as on the snow day.  This snow is less thick, less fluffy.  It’s more slushy…and much more dangerous regarding the possibility of slipping!
Who would have thought that something so simple as snow would have elicited as much joy from some Fightin’ Texas Aggies as it did?   

Kelsie Suter
Office of Congressman Michael McCaul
Washington, D.C. - Spring 2015

Tags: Aggies, DC, Snow, Washington