Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Dragons

We got hit with a mountain of snow a few days ago.  I've always liked snow.  I'm not particularly fond of walking in it, but I did take my shoes and socks off and scampered a bit in the fresh drift while it was still coming down.  Call me nutty because I am, a bit.  It was fun and very short-lived.  My friend nagged me, reminding me that I was still wimpy from the pneumonia but I didn't care.  Afterwards, I drank fragrant chamomile tea, curled up on the couch in a blue snuggie, with Swiss Colony toffee to warm the cockles.  The Christmas tree was the only light in the room, making everything magical, and I began to reminisce about my daughter Rhianna.

Rhianna has never looked at the world as a normal person does, something which has always endeared her to me.  I bought her fabric paint as a child, thinking she'd do normal things with it, like use it on fabric.  She drew mythical creatures with it on wax paper, let it dry and turned them into sun catchers.  They stuck surprisingly well to the windows.  She tool melted wax off candles and shaped it into tiny bat-winged figures and cuddly kittens.  She looked at a canvas and somehow made fuchsia, lime green, hot pink and yellow ochre work together in miraculous harmony.  Rhianna has the touch, albeit an odd and fascinating one.  One of my very favorite things she ever created, however, was a snow dragon.  This latest snowfall got me to thinking about it.

It was a couple years ago in Illinois.  I was living with Mom, Rhianna in a rented duplex across the street.  We'd had an enormous amount of snow dumped on us the night before, and I'd just finished shoveling off the sidewalk and driveway.  Time for us to play.  I did the usual; rolled up big balls of snow to make a snowman in Mom's front yard, while Rhianna had begun rolling medium-sized chunks all over her own yard.  There were five in all.  She piled snow up onto the first blob, patting it down and mashing more and more handfuls until it was waist high.  Curious, I waddled over in my many layers of swaddling but Rhianna refused to tell me what it was she was making.  I finished my lopsided snowman and went inside to make hot chocolate.  Rhianna stayed outside.

An hour went by.  I brought her out a mug of hot chocolate and went back in to watch a movie with Mom.  When the film was over, I peeked out again.  What I saw had me running outside in my boots, sweat pants and t-shirt, too thrilled to bother with grabbing a coat.  Rhianna's snow blobs had begun to take shape.  They weren't individual things; the blobs were all the coiled scales of an enormous snow dragon.  She'd fashioned a head on the tall blob, complete with horns and long fangs, and each receding chunk of snow had been shaped and smoothed into a coil, so the entire thing looked like it was going in and out of the yard as if it were in the water.  She was using the edge of a drinking glass to make the curves of the scales.  It was breathtaking, gorgeous, weird and wonderful.  I hopped up and down in the middle of the street, squealing like a groupie, and Rhianna just looked up and grinned her strange and wondrous grin. 

A person can have shit thrown at them, get stomped to a greasy spot by life, find misery and depression and panic in every corner of the world, but there's magic too.  Magical people who can take a blob of snow and bring forth a dragon, glistening and alive, with nothing more than imagination and a small juice glass.  Whenever I feel hunted, and my jaw pulls tight and my eyes go wild, I stop and think about raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, and a gleaming snow dragon who lived for a short while across the street from me.  When the weather heated up, he slid majestically back into the ground from which he'd come.  I never forgot him, or the whimsical smile of the beloved daughter who brought him to life.  I have a library of such memories, and I withdraw them to soothe and calm me in the same way I'd check out a novel.  Beautiful things, coffee table books full of pictures, all stored away in my head and heart.  On chilly days like these, where you feel like your ass is about to freeze off or you're stressed by all the slipping and sliding, catch a glimpse of sunlight on a white surface that gleams like diamonds.  There's a dragon in there, gleaming and alive.  Enjoy him before he slides back down.

Love, R

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